Today is the last day of the Music in Our Schools Month and our last day of honoring the Virginia Symphony’s 2014 Outstanding Music Teachers in Hampton Roads. Thank you to all our music educators throughout the region for all you do to inspire out next generation through the art of music.

Today we would like to honor Ms. Katherine Wease, the Orchestra Director at Western Branch Intermediate School and Ms. Mary Wick, Director of the School of Arts at Norfolk Academy.

One of Ms. Wease’s orchestra parents shared why she is such a loved teacher:

Mrs. Wease is a wonderful part of the Western Branch Orchestra family.  She has wonderful and engaging programs for her students.  She inspires her students with her knowledge of music.

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School administration, a faculty member and a student shared why Ms. Wick is such an outstanding teacher:

I first met Mary Wick when she hired me to teach piano at Norfolk Academy in 1997. Mary is the coordinator of the adjunct faculty at Norfolk Academy in addition to her teaching duties. I have always found Mary to be extremely efficient and supportive. She is highly organized and is always willing to go the extra mile to make sure the department is kept informed of any schedule changes. I have always observed and admired what a versatile teacher and musician Mary is. She is always highly involved in school activities and the students and school are always her first priority. Mary has a great rapport with both students and parents.  From organizing and working through scheduling problems at the start of each school year to planning and organizing the annual National Piano Guild Auditions, the annual Honors Recital and the annual Marathon Music recitals, Mary is always on top of everything. She works tirelessly to make sure every event takes place without a hitch.

No doubt about it, Mrs. Wick counts among my favorite teachers.  I’ve been taking private lessons on the sax from her since the sixth grade and, of course, was in “her” band throughout middle school.  In fact, I attribute my appreciation for music and commitment to the saxophone to her and will surely still be thinking of her when I’m blowing on that horn years from now.  Mrs. Wick has had an influence on my life beyond music as well.  And there’s nothing that I couldn’t talk with her about.  A particularly difficult test or paper, my senior speech, where I’m applying to college, what I want to do after college—we’ve had deep conversations about each of them.  Good food is another of our topics as we’ve been swapping restaurant stories for years!  I’ve learned so much from her about what is important in life—like always doing your best work and being comfortable in your own skin and looking at the positive side of things.  Wherever life takes me, I know I’ll never forget Mrs. Wick.  She has been a role model, a mentor, a good friend. Thank you, Mrs. Wick.

I have known Mary now for 13 years during my tenure as headmaster at Norfolk Academy.  Mary’s tenure, however, trumps mine as she has been a faithful and committed servant of our school for 32 years.  She has taught individual lessons, music appreciation, band classes, and choral classes, as well as having served as a musical director for a number of our mainstage winter musicals.  She also directs our middle school band and our middle school chorus. In her “spare time,” Mary oversees and administers our adjunct music faculty and individual, private music lessons for our students—some 250-300 students participate.  Quite simply, Mary has built a music empire for us at Norfolk Academy and done so without a hint of ego, self-absorption or negativity.  She possesses a remarkably quick and incisive wit and a buoyancy and positive energy that are infectious—and so important to shaping a positive world view in a child. All of her remarkable attributes make her a sterling colleague, too.  Mary is retiring at the end of this year, and her loss will be a profound one for her students, colleagues, and our school. She’s been a treasure here for 32 years.

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Thank you Music Teachers for all you do!!!

Today’s #MIOSM Music Teacher Honorees are Ms. Beth Wallace, Norfolk Collegiate School’s Music Teacher and Dr. Martha Springstead, Landstown High School Choral Director in Virginia Beach.

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Beth Wallace is the Middle and Upper Schools Music Teacher for Norfolk Collegiate Schools. Ms. Wallace attended the University of Northern Colorado and obtained a BS in Journalism, the University of Northern Colorado and earned a BA in Vocal Performance.  She was also a Towson State University Artist in Residence (Master’s Vocal Program), and has a ODU Teaching Certificate in Music Education

One of her colleagues describes Beth as:

Beth Wallace is an incredibly talented teacher who has a gift for inspiring children to perform with joy and enthusiasm.  She is a true treasure for both our students, and the Norfolk Collegiate Community.

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Dr. Martha Springstead has an extensive background in music.  One of Dr. Springstead’s students shared why she is such an outstanding teacher, as Chorus Director of Landstown High School:

It’s not often that you meet people that have a positive reputation with everyone that they’ve ever come in contact with. Landstown High School has been blessed with a fine arts teacher that can fulfill any role placed upon her. Dr. Martha Springstead’s impact on the chorus students and Landstown as a whole has been absolutely monumental.

When new schools open, the process of hiring teachers can be stressful and time-consuming. Fortunately for Landstown, Dr. Springstead has taught here since the school opened in 2001. Not only has she taught hundreds of students the in-and-outs of ensembles, rhythm, and time signatures, she is also involved with a gentleman’s quartet, church choir, and plenty of faculty functions.

Assistant Principal Mr. Brad Barbour remarked that she is “the cream of the crop” of fine arts teachers because of her overall impact on people and her willingness to spend time working with students. He recalled a time when the choral group sang to a teary faculty. “That’s the power of Martha Springstead for you!” he added.

The All-State expansion that has occurred as a result of Dr. Springstead’s drive is obvious to anyone who walks through Landstown’s cafeteria. Located to the right of the restrooms, almost an entire wall is lined with framed pictures of students who have earned All-State chorus honors. There doesn’t seem to be a drop off with the limits of Springstead’s talent pool. Mr. Barbour said that, “She’s always reaching to expand, whether it is directing a talent show or a musical!”

Much like the song, “I Like to Move it” by Crazy Frog, it’s nearly impossible for Dr. Springstead to enter a room without lighting it up with her musical passion and peachy personality. Her genuinely nice personality continues to open up positive pathways for students, faculty, and their families alike.

Highly esteemed Principal, Dr. Brian Matney said, “From the moment Landstown opened its doors, the good Dr. Springstead has been a bright light to both her students and her colleagues here on Concert Drive. The passion she instills in her award-winning musicians is always evident, whether they are performing at commencement or a host of school events throughout the year. She’s learned, positive, and inspirational—loving young people, her chosen craft, and the fine arts – and we love her right back!”

Mrs. Gayer of Landstown’s Fine Arts department believes that the most significant thing about Dr. Springstead is, “the wonderful big-reaching impact on the students that she has.” Gayer directs the majority of the theatre department’s productions, so opportunities to work with the chorus come up quite often. She has worked with Dr. Springstead since Landstown opened and probably knows her better than anyone else in the building, aside from the students.

Cliché but true, no words can be used to describe the pure joy that Dr. Springstead brings to Landstown and the Hampton Roads community daily through her love for music and music instruction. She deserves a “lunga” (In musical terms, lunga is a long pause that is determined by the performer), to have appreciation bestowed upon her talents and soulful and inspirational qualities.

Thank you both for all you do in our schools!