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      Three Pairs of Shoes

      There's a new music teacher at the Wellsboro High School. He's stepping into the shoes of Judy Smithgall. I don't know what his shoe size is, but he is faced with a huge challenge. Any time one follows an icon like Mrs. Smithgall one is up against a lot. Remember, she was at WAHS for decades, having stepped into the shoes of another Wellsboro icon Pat Davis.

      One positive is that there is a tradition that is in place and though some traditions can be stifling and limiting, this tradition has established that music is an ok thing...in fact, a good thing...even in a district that has an unbalanced emphasis on sports.

      I saw the three music teachers in the district eating at Timeless Destination the other day, a few weeks before school began. It gave me hope to see these three young people getting to know each other, offering support and planning collaboration. I went up to the school to meet Dan Sensinig since that time, and I know Morgan Shaffer (at the middle school) and Molly Cary (at the elementary schools) and I have hope that these three can usher in a greater appreciation of the arts—particualy music—in our schools. They're up against difficulties in scheduling, the ridiculous emphasis on preparing for the “test”, and the monolithic monopolistic worship of sports. These are challenges that Judy faced for years and she kept on slogging on with her miraculous energy and encouraging rapport with students.

      These three can't do it alone. Let me offer a few practical ways we might be able to support their efforts:
      1. Go to concerts. You don't have to know anyone in the performing group; just go.
      2. Let these three know that you appreciate them and that they are doing a great job.
      3. Find out who's on the school board and when you see them in the grocery store, let them know you appreciate the efforts of the three, and that music is important and needs to be funded and scheduled.
      4. Send an email or a phone call or a letter to each of the three principals ans let them know music is important and needs to be funded and scheduled.
      5. When you come across a student who is involved with one of the music groups in any school , let them know that you admire and applaud their involvement.

      Welcome to Wellsboro, Dan.

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