By: Danni-Lee/Sophomore Writer and Kyra Powell/Senior Writer and Content Editor
The Raider Reader kicks off this year’s Teacher Spotlight with our treasured chorus director, Amy Zakarauskas. Here we give you an overview of what it took for her to get here and who she is.
Isabelle Edwards gave me her opinion. “I like Ms. Z a lot, she’s really funny and she’s taught me so much about singing! She’s one of my inspirations, and has given me great advice.”
Q: How long have you been teaching at Blue Ridge?
A: This is my 13th year! I also direct our musicals, teach private piano lessons, and am a church pianist.
Q: What’s coming up? (Exciting Events!!)
A: The high school chorus will be singing the National Anthem at a Binghamton Devils Hockey game, Wednesday, Oct 10th
Young Men’s Choral Fest, October 26th
Pre-Auditions for District Chorus (PMEA), October 21st
James and the Giant Peach JR. is November 16th, 17th, and 18th.
The high school select choir will go Christmas caroling to the Viewmont Mall and local nursing homes Friday, December 14th
Grades 6 – 12 Winter Concert is Thursday, December 6th at 7 pm.
Q: Did you always want to be a music teacher?
A: I was hired to teach music at a church as an 8thgrader and have been teaching music in one form or another ever since. I got recognition for my singing in high school through competitions (such as PMEA) and that gave me the confidence to apply for music school my senior year.
Q: Where did you go to college?
A: Mansfield University. I received a BA in Music Education, and am K-12 Certified to teach Chorus, Orchestra, and Band. I specialized in Piano and Voice.
Q: Are there any memorable achievements from college you’d like to share?
A: I won Mansfield’s Concerto Competition my Junior year with Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A Minor Op. 54 (and got to perform with an orchestra as the winner).
Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of teaching?
A: I enjoy hiking, running, swing dancing, reading, and eating both exotic and spicy foods.
Q: Message to students?
A: Music changes lives and is sometimes the only reason students may come to school in the morning. Advocating for the arts and creating a positive, safe place for all students to be themselves or to find themselves is incredibly rewarding work and I am happy to call Blue Ridge my home.
Q: What do you enjoy most about teaching here?
A:I think our faculty, staff, and administration cares deeply about our students, and the community supports the school. This creates a student body that is uniquely kind to each other.
Q: Do you have any fond teaching memories?
A: It is too hard to pick one memory from all of my time here, but I am thankful that I laugh all day long. It is hard to think of another job where I go home sometimes in pain from too much laughter and joy.
Q: What are your favorite field trips? Why?
A:Students have performed at very high levels during my time here and have earned spots at All-State, All-Eastern, and National level choral competitions as far away as Hartford, CT, Providence, RI, and even Nashville, TN. Getting to see students perform at that level has been incredibly rewarding and they come back changed for the better.
Q: If you weren’t teaching, can you picture yourself in another profession?
A: I would love to direct a musical on Broadway someday (Lin-Manuel, call me?), but I know I am meant to teach music!