Don’t let the photo fool you. The lady in the center, Quitman Lower Elementary’s Music Teacher Anna McHan, is tough. McHan’s Pre-K and Kindergarten students are spending this week preparing for the Christmas program they will perform in the high school auditorium on Thursday, December 18th. Though her schedule is packed, she allows us to attend one of their rehearsals.
When asked how she puts together a program with 275 – 300 children she says, “I write all my own programs so that they will fit with what we need, and I receive so much help from my family and wonderful co-teachers here at QLE. It takes a team effort to pull something this big off for sure. We start stage practicing about 2 weeks before the program in our multipurpose room, and then the week of the program we have practices in the auditorium.”
McHan’s week is a staccato display of teaching music to all Pre-K through second grade students, piano instruction to second graders, three days of Manuel Goff Head Start music lessons, and co-teaching a second grade reading block for ninety minutes each morning. For the past few weeks she’s had this Christmas program on her list, and now we are amazed she is even able to answer our emails containing interview questions.
So, possibly pushing our luck, we ask in another email, “How and why did you become a music teacher?”
Her thoughtful response matches what we see in the photograph above.
“How and why did I get into teaching music? I started off here at Quitman as a first grade teacher, but I think I always knew I wanted to teach an art. When the music position opened I applied/begged for it, and Mr. Bounds gave it to me. So, I’ve been teaching music here for the past 4 years.
Why? Because I LOVE music. I grew up always singing in church choirs and at nursing homes with my mom and friends. I also sang in the Meridian Children’s Chorus as a teenager and then in the MCC Chorus during college. I took piano lessons from the time I was in Kindergarten to 12th grade. I have been at Quitman Lower Elementary for 5 years.
In my music classroom I teach beginning level music including music theory, musical genres, composers, musicians, instruments, and instrument families. I even throw in a little culture and talk about different music from different countries.
The greatest challenges in teaching music to this age group would have to be placing it on a level of their understanding and not overwhelming them with too much. I basically use my knowledge of music along with some fun games and activities that I find online or get from conferences I attend. We do everything from singing and dancing, to using art. I try to make it fun while they are learning. Music can be a complicated subject and I have to make sure to give it in small pieces so they can understand. I want to build their knowledge in the basics of music so they’ll have a foundation to build on as they continue to take music classes at the Upper Elementary and maybe even at the Junior High or High School. I love that I have them fresh, because I can get them pretty much before they know anything about music. It is all new and exciting for them.”
Anyone who knows McHan knows she is serious and focused about what and how she teaches her students. We are so thankful she allowed us the opportunity to understand the why of it.
Employee Focus is a weekly article featured on this website. We choose the employee by randomly drawing a name from a basket. Then we contact the employee to ask permission for the interview/photo shoot. Our goal is to inform you of why we think Quitman School District’s second greatest asset, second only to it’s students, is it’s employees.