“Miss Sarah! Miss Sarah!!” The voices of my students rang across the cafeteria. I walked in beaming, each arm loaded down with bags of fruit snacks and CapriSuns. Each week, no matter how much homework I had, or how many practices hours I needed to complete in the practice room, I always knew that when I walked into the doors of TC Cherry Elementary School, all the problems of life would dissolve because for one hour, I had a chance to sing and dance with seventeen third and fourth graders. What more could a music educator want? My Lifetime Experience Grant provided me this opportunity.

My original idea for the choir program was this—I would pick six songs from around the world (I was going with an international music theme) and present these to the students with facts about the countries we would be studying. But after the first day, one girl said to me, “Miss Sarah, this is great and all, but can we have dancing?!” The other kids chimed in their approval, and I spent several hours on YouTube that night searching for traditional dances. The next week, one student admitted, “We really should sing a song from Ireland—I LOVE Ireland…” and thus, the tune “Wee Falorie Man” was added to our repertoire. On a particularly fulfilling afternoon one girl said to me, “I just love Musical Thursdays, I wish every day was Thursday…” and thus the name Musical Thursdays came to be.

One afternoon, I was explaining why sound projection—filling up a room with music—was important to performing when I realized that many of my students had never seen a musical production. With the help of Ms. Steiner, my advisor, I obtained tickets for Musical Thursdays! to take a field trip to the Capitol Arts Theatre to see “School House Rock Junior.” The looks of joy on the students’ faces when we entered the theatre were unforgettable. One of my students whipped around in his seat and said, “I hope they sing “Conjunction Junction”!! That’s my favorite!!” Luckily, he got his wish and he sat with his eyes wide with delight as his favorite song unfolded on the stage before him.

Perhaps the most touching moment throughout the semester came when a student wrote me a note that said, “When I am singing in Musical Thursdays! I am free to be myself and I think that I can do anything I set my mind to.” As I read this with tears in my eyes, nodding in agreement at these words, I was struck by the realization that this generous LTE Grant allowed me to learn about music and life through my students. It helped my students to see potential in themselves and most of all, it provided a gift that will always remain in the hearts of those it touched—the gift of music. LTE Grants hold the power for incredible change, so please think about applying today…the world needs willing optimists.

*Sarah used her LTE grant to found an after-school music enrichment program at TC Cherry Elementary School in Bowling Green, KY.

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