Nick walked into Gerard's office at school and whispered that question, "Can you keep a secret?" I was sitting at Gerard's desk and Gerard was at the piano. "Yes." was both of our responses. Roughly 18 months later, Gerard and I were sitting in Norwalk's Performing Arts Center balcony watching our shared secret be revealed.
Nick had contacted a world-renown composer by the name of Dr. Jack Stamp and asked him if he would write a piece to commemorate the years of teaching among three of the other directors in our district. Jeff Heltman, Ken Huen & Carroll Hardy have a combined 92 years of music education to their credit, most of those years are in serving the Norwalk School District. In other words, these gentlemen have been teaching pretty much as long as I've been alive and I have the distinct honor of working with them every day. They had no idea this piece was for them.
Ken was under the impression that he was directing a piece that Nick just happened to get ahold of before it went to print. Dr. Jack Stamp came on Tuesday and clinic-ed our 11-12 Band and told them some convoluted story about how the piece came to fruition. I knew the real story and he told the lie so well, I almost believed it!
The next evening, Nick delivered the dedication of the piece while Carroll was in the audience, Jeff & Ken-backstage. It was only when Jack called Ken to be out on stage that Ken fully grasped the gravity of what was going on. The students were in shock:
Dr. Stamp explained that in the piece there are several things that help reflect these three men. A percussion break is homage to Jeff and his major instrument, trumpets holding the melody is for Ken. Carroll's daughter plays oboe for the Boston Pops and Carroll's specialty is piano, so there is specific reference to both as well. Because all of the men's last names start with 'H', there is reference to that also. After sharing all this information with the audience, he presented a signed score copy to each of them:
This particular senior class is very special to me as they were 6th graders my first year teaching in Norwalk, so this entire thing had an additional piece of sentimental value to me. I could also sense what this all meant to the students in their last concert-performing a piece for the teachers who had led them for the past 4-6 years.
It a huge privilege for me to work in this district, not only alongside my husband who's in the choral department, but alongside these men who have tolerated the only female in the band department and all my quirks. They have brought me along for the ride and helped me hone my craft. I've taught a fraction of what they have and I'm honored to be a part of this incredible program. It's especially awesome to use my photography skills to help capture history for our schools-I love when my two jobs collide!