What is your role at Fenwick?
RC: I am the Expressive Arts Department Chairperson. I am one of two band directors and teach Beginning and Concert Band. I am also the school yoga instructor and provide yoga instruction during PE classes and after school.
What is your educational background?
RC: I received my Bachelor’s and Master’s of Music in Music Education from DePaul University.
What did you do prior to becoming a teacher at Fenwick?
RC: I taught band in Woodland School District 50 in Gurnee, IL. I spent four years teaching 5th-grade Beginning Band and then moved to the middle school to teach 6th, 7th and 8th Graders, which I did for four years. I then briefly taught elementary general music and band at St. Monica Catholic Academy [in Chicago] before coming to Fenwick in 2009. I am currently in my ninth year at Fenwick.
What are you currently reading for enjoyment?
RC: I am currently reading The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century by Alex Ross.
What interests do you pursue outside of the classroom?
RC: Yoga, reading, travel and other physical activity (currently kickboxing).
To what teams and/or clubs did you belong as a student?
RC: I was a ‘band geek’ in high school (and still am). I was involved in almost everything that had to do with music: band, orchestra, musicals.
Which clubs/sports/activities do you run at Fenwick?
RC: Besides band, which is also a class, I provide yoga and meditation classes after school to Fenwick students, faculty and staff. I provide yoga classes to various Fenwick sports teams when asked. I am also moderator for the Fenwick Tri-M Music Honor Society.
When did you decide to become a teacher, and why did you choose this field?
RC: I think I knew I would be a teacher at a fairly young age. I am the oldest of four children and when we played school, I was always the teacher. I truly decided to become a teacher probably my sophomore year of high school. I chose music because it was always an important part of my life growing up. I also had two very influential music teachers in high school: my band director and flute teacher. They fostered my love of music. Being in band also provided me with a place to belong and feel a part of something bigger. I decided I wanted to share my love of music and band with others.
I decided to become a yoga teacher in 2012. I had been practicing yoga on and off for six years prior to finding a yoga teacher who really inspired me. I began practicing more consistently and felt the benefits of having a consistent yoga practice. I decided that I wanted to share the benefits of yoga with others and, since I was already a teacher at Fenwick, I thought why not bring it to school? I enrolled in a yoga teacher training course and received my certification in 2013.
What personal strengths do you find especially helpful in your teaching?
RC: I am organized and detail-oriented. I am passionate about what I teach. And I try to be understanding and compassionate towards all my students.
What do you like most about teaching?
RC: I enjoy sharing what I love with my students and I get satisfaction from watching my students excel and improve. The look on their faces when they ‘get it’ is priceless.
What is your philosophy of education?
RC: Everyone has the ability and capacity to learn.
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing students today?
RC: I find that students these days are much more stressed. There is a lot more pressure for them to perform at a high level academically, athletically and artistically. Students, especially Fenwick students, want to do well academically and also be involved and do well in various sports and activities. The challenge for students is how to achieve all these things without causing themselves emotional harm. Students need to learn how to find balance, set priorities and also set realistic expectations for themselves.
What quality/characteristic marks a Fenwick student?
RC: When I first came to Fenwick, I was struck by how courteous and respectful the students were and I believe they still are. I also think Fenwick students are motivated and determined. Despite the challenges they do face, Fenwick students are able to excel in all areas of their lives. I believe they are able to do this because of the supportive Fenwick Community.