Favorite #111: Music Teachers

Nancy playing the piano for a program.

Nancy playing the piano for a program.

     A Love for Music

September means not only the end of summer for many, but the beginning of an exciting new school year. As a retired music teacher, even though I may not be standing at the door on the first day of school, I still get butterflies knowing school’s about to start.

While much is changing in education, it’s comforting to know music still offers children a way to escape from the stresses of everyday life, if only for a few minutes each week. Helping not only with the emotional well-being of a child, research has shown music also benefits in other areas of learning, including language and math.

I didn’t have the good fortune of a music teacher as a child growing up in the sixties, but did have wonderful classroom teachers who would pull out music books at least once a week and sing with us. I also had experiences at church through choir, singing hymns and playing the piano. Developing a love for music at an early age played a role in my career choice, just as it did a friend of mine, Nancy Sloop.

Nancy grew up in Kannapolis, NC, also during the sixties, wanting to play the piano. Since both of her parents were employed at Cannon Mills, there was only enough money to pay the bills with very little left for unnecessary things like piano lessons. Realizing at about the age of eleven or twelve if she would ever have the opportunity to take piano lessons, she would have to help pay for a piano herself, she began babysitting for that purpose. With the help of her mother and grandmother, it didn’t take long until Nancy had enough money to buy a used one.

Getting a late start taking piano lessons, it took longer than expected to get her music degree, but not letting hardships or a lack of money stop her, after receiving teacher certification from UNC-Charlotte, Nancy began teaching at the age of 26. Never looking back, Nancy has loved every minute of it, passing not only a love for music on to her students, but also lessons of determination and perseverance.

Understanding and seeing first-hand the influence music teachers can have in a child’s life, Nancy offers advice for beginning music teachers. She says, “Offer your students a variety of learning opportunities as you teach them to sing and enjoy music. Even though children are bombarded with technology and all that goes with it, there’s nothing that can take the place of a child learning a song. They will remember not only the song, but the memories attached to it for the rest of their lives. There’s no doubt, one of the most important things a music teacher can do is facilitate a love of singing.”

It’s been a long journey for Nancy from growing up in the textile village of Cannon Mills as a little girl, to music teacher and performer. Now in retirement, but not retired, playing for various churches, groups and organizations, while Nancy’s early years of struggles seem so far away, they will forever be a part of who she is, stored within her memory bank to be retrieved when needed. Influenced by music teachers in her life, she in turn has been and will continue to be an inspiration to many with her determination and uplifting spirit.

To read more about Nancy’s story, check out the Salisbury Post article here.

Do you know someone who was inspired by a music teacher? Did that turn into a career? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com



Favorite #34: Walkertown Elementary School

Walkertown Elementary Reading Event

Walkertown Elementary Reading Event

Reading Day at Walkertown Elementary School

Walkertown Elementary School is a beautiful school that welcomes parents, visitors and community members to come inside and see what exciting things are taking place. One of those exciting things happened just a few weeks ago.

March 7th was the day Walkertown Elementary School hosted its first annual, “Walkertown, Let’s Read to Make a Difference Day.” Even the Mayor proclaimed the day as an annual event, encouraging the community to get involved with supporting the school and students in their pursuit of becoming life-long readers.

As a children’s author, I was excited when Ms. Barbara Cohen, the principal of Walkertown Elementary School, invited me to be a part of the day’s activities. As you can see in the photo, the children were well-behaved, listening and participating at appropriate times as I read my children’s books. They seemed to especially enjoy the newest book, “Tired of Being a Bully.”

Ms. Cohen said she was happy with all the support that was received from community businesses, churches and other organizations. The schedule was filled throughout the day with various individuals who came not only to read, but to share their ideas of why reading is important. From all accounts, and from the smiles on children’s faces, it was a successful day enjoyed by all.

To produce graduates ready for the 21st century, as demonstrated by the philosophy of the administration and staff of Walkertown Elementary School, it’s going to take not only the efforts of parents, teachers and students, but the community as well. It’s encouraging to see educators open to new and different ideas such as reading day, but it’s even more encouraging when leaders of that community support those ideas.

Congratulations, Walkertown Elementary School! For your organization and willingness to let others be a part of your educational process, you are my favorite school of the week.

Do you have a favorite school or school event?

If so, leave a comment, message on facebook or email dicysm@hahoo.com.



Favorite #25: New Author

A Boy's Best Friend

A Boy’s Best Friend

New Author: Garrett White

            As an author, it’s always exciting to see someone publish for the first time. Those who have published before know the hardest part of the process isn’t the writing, but the rewriting, the editing and the waiting.

            Recently, Garrett White, a student I had in elementary music class published his first children’s book.  Now in his early twenties, Garrett has been passionate about writing for many years.

            This passion began when Garrett told the elementary school librarian he was concerned about the lack of books for boys. He said there were a lot of books for girls, but not many for boys on “boy stuff.” The librarian, pondering for a minute, said, “Well, Garrett, why don’t you write a book for boys?” Taking the librarian up on her challenge, Garrett decided he would do just that and so began his journey as a writer.

            Before that day, if someone had asked Garrett what he loved, he would have said hunting and his dog, Buster. Even before kindergarten, it wasn’t unusual for him to be out hunting with his dad. When it came time to write in his journal at school, Garrett naturally wrote about these experiences.

            His high school teachers and later college professors began to take notice of his talent for writing, encouraging him to publish. This past year, Garrett did just that. His book, A Boy’s Best Friend is a story about his first beagle, Buster Junior Christmas. The story showcases a love of the outdoors, inspiring others to love it, too.

             Although Garrett’s challenge originally was to write a book for boys about “boy stuff,” girls will enjoy this story as well. After all, who doesn’t like a good book about a boy and his dog?

            Congratulations, Garrett.  You are my favorite person of the week not only because of your passion for writing, but also because of your commitment to a challenge that began so many years ago.

            If you would like to read more about Garrett and his book, A Boy’s Best Friend,  check out the following Salisbury Post link:


            Do you have a desire to write a book? What would it be about? If you would like to leave a comment on my blog, register first, or leave a message on Facebook, or send an email to dicysm@yahoo.com.




Reading at Bostian Elementary School

I was asked by the AIG teacher at Bostian Elementary School to be the speaker for the Author Extravaganza on December 19. It was an exciting day and the energy level was high, not only for me, but the student presenters as well. The students had researched various authors and did projects relating to the one they chose. These projects were displayed in the library.

The presentation was at 10:15 with about 40 parents in attendance along with fifth grade classes. The AIG students presented a skit about literacy which was not only informative, but funny. The skit included points such as writing about something you know and organizing your thoughts.

 I shared my children’s books, Tired of My Bath and Tired of School, explaining this series came about because as a teacher I often heard children complain about being tired of something. I explained my new book, Tired of Being Different, should be out in early 2012. This book has new characters as well as a more complex storyline,which in the end reveals being different is okay.

The students, teachers, and parents at Bostian Elementary School were a wonderful audience. Thank you Ms Rymer for inviting me. You have an awesome program.