Educator of the Year
Nick Ronaghan - Chorus Teacher
Everyone has their favorite hobby which they've engaged in since they were small children. Mine just so happens to be music and, more specifically, singing. I sang as a child with my cousins and as soon as I was old enough I joined chorus in third grade. Once I got to middle school I immediately joined chorus and was excited to see so many people had also joined.
When I first started chorus in sixth grade I was a little nervous because I didn't want to sing by myself but my teacher, Mr. R, made it clear that we wouldn't have to. He would split us into voice parts by listening carefully as we all sang at the same time, which seems difficult to me but Mr. R made it look easy. Mr. R sat me in the soprano sectiom next to a girl named Paige who became my best friend and still is to this day. I learned more than I ever imagined in sixth grade and even though I still hadn't gathered up enough confidence to sing alone, I could feel my confidence building along with my knowledge.
When seventh grade came around I had the amazing opportunity to audition for a competition group that Mr. R put together called chorale. Chorale consisted of a limited amount of seventh and eighth graders who would travel to Virginia Beach and Busch Gardens to sing in a Music and Arts competition, which they usually did very well in thanks to Mr. R's song choice and teaching. Even though to audition for chorale you only had to sing alone for Mr. R, I was still too nervous and working on buillding up my courage just a little more. Every year Mr. R also ran the school play/musical. Play tryouts started out with partner work. I tried out in seventh grade with my friend Paige where we sang a small portion of a song in the musical and said a few lines, not too much pressure and I was courageous enough to do it. In seventh grade i made it through the auditions and was a zebra in Seussical the musical where I didn't have a solo, but it was still lots of fun.
When eighth grade came around I was feeling on top of the world, like a music pro. I finally had the courage to audition for chorale and I made it in, even though there were complications and i couldn't go on the trip. Even more exciting I auditioned for a solo where I had to sing by myself in front of the entire class and I got it, and later I realized I didn't technically have a solo because there were too many people picked but I was still shocked I even made it through the audition. When play auditions came around I was ready to go. Once again I auditioned in the first round with my friend Paige and I was surprised to see I made it to callbacks where I had to sing by myself in front of everyone there to get a lead part. Although I didn't quite get a lead I still had a solo, I was a hairdresser in Mulan the musical and it was an amazing experience. By the end of eighth grade I began to realize how far I had come thanks to Mr. R.
Mr. R's ways of teaching music have given me a great advantage in high school and hopefully will continue throughout the rest of my life. In my three years of middle school Mr. R taught us how to read music, sulfege, proper etiquette and form while singing and he even taught us how to believe in ourselves. Mr. R was one of those teachers who could always cheer you up and could joke around but also get down to business when needed. When I came into high school I didn't plan on joining chorus because I wanted to focus on my other classes, but I regret that decision now. Last year, my sophomore year in high school, I performed in my schools talent show which is something I would've never imagined myself doing, but I did it. Doing the talent show sparked back up the singer in me and I decided to try our school's audition-only choir called Dickinson Singers. The audition consisted of a few singing drills to warm up and test your range (which mine was pretty big from middle school), a song of your choice, and sight-reading. I felt like I was on cloud nine walking out of my audition because everything Mr. R had taught me in middle school made it a piece of cake. This year has been my first year in Dickinson Singers and I love it. I use the skills I learned from Mr. R every single day in that class and it wouldn't be easy if I never learned them.
Mr. R has inspired me in many ways. He shared with us that he has a disease which causes his body to reject the growth of hair and he showed us that even when rude students would make fun of him, it wouldn't phase him. He would often joke with us about his bald head and it was uplifting to see that he never let it bother him and he kept a positive attitude. After realizing my love for music throughout middle school I realized that I can't give up on it. I plan on staying involved in vocal music for the rest of my high school and hopefully also my college carreer. I'm actually thinking about going to school to be a music teacher, although I don't think I could ever be as good as Mr. R!