Posts Tagged ‘Music’

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I wouldn’t be who I am today without the teachers who’ve poured into me over the years. I’m grateful for all of the men and women who did their best to educate and inspire me from Kindergarten through college, but there are two women who share the title, “Niki’s Favorite Teacher.”

Elementary school was particularly rough for me – LOTS of family drama, and at the end of 3rd grade, my mom moved me and my brothers across the state to a little town called Random Lake. I joined a soccer team, quickly made friends, fell in love (wait for the crush post in a few days), and won the 4th grade spelling bee. Other than major dental surgery and a crabby old lady teacher, it was a pretty good year for me. Then I moved on to 5th grade and my life changed forever.


Miss Kintop was tall, single, an unabashed lover of all things Terry Bradshaw and…wait for it…BOOKS. Yeah, now you know where I’m going with this, don’t you? I’m sure I learned a lot that year, but all I remember is her reading to us after lunch every day. There were kids who would doze off a bit or fidget out of boredom. Not me. I was enthralled with her voice, the way she held books, and absolutely loved that she’d have to stop reading now and then to breathe deeply and wipe away a tear, or clear her throat before continuing. I’m convinced if all teachers read aloud like that, there would be no literacy problems in our country.

I learned how to read when I was three years old, but I learned to love reading while I sat in Miss Kintop’s class at age ten. It probably helped that the other object of my affection that year was sitting in the 5th grade class next door, not distracting me. 😉 Miss Kintop started sending me home with books and challenged me to read at a higher level, and I did. She praised and hugged me, telling me what a good student I was, which made me want to try even harder. Yes, I was THAT kid. My reading level jumped that year and I’ve been at the top of the charts ever since. People are my first love, but books are a close second, followed by music…

music-love-pretty-quotes-quote-Favim.com-572562Mrs. Allen was my high school music teacher. I’m of the opinion she should be sainted. She was THE mother figure of my high school years. I spent as much time with her as possible, helping her out with ANY task she’d give me. Eventually she’d gently tell me to go home. I remember her as a freshmen, taking my face in her hands, looking into my eyes and calling me a little songbird with a beautiful voice. She told me to sing my song. For a girl like me who soaked up any love I could get like a dry sponge, those were words of life! I had the privilege of being in several of her musical groups and taking private voice lessons through her and my other wonderful music director, Mr. Aronson. They helped me develop my musical gift, and gave me an opportunity to belong.

Mrs. Allen formed a couple of quartets and that’s how I connected with the girl who would become my high school best friend. She found several opportunities for us to perform in our community, but knew my mom could never afford the outfits I needed for our performances, so Mrs. Allen not only paid for mine, she also sewed/altered them for me. I know I’m not the only one she took care of like that. She was so good to me. One of the last times I saw her, I was home visiting from college and got to tell her about my engagement. She took my face in her hands again and smiled at me with shining eyes, then pulled me into a hug and whispered to me, “Congratulations! I am so happy for you, you beautiful girl!”


Words and music threw open doors of freedom for me and now I’m a teacher, hoping I’m making an everlasting impression on my students. I’m speaking life to them and inspiring them towards greater confidence and their own freedom. I teach Drama at a private school on Fridays, and every week my students high-five me on the way out the door. And yes, I notice the ones who remind me of my younger self. I go out of my way to smile at them with shining eyes and pour love on those sweet little sponges.

Go read about the teachers who inspired my challenger friends:

Don at donhillson.wordpress.com

Beckie at free2b2much.blogspot.com

Tracy at countyroadchronicles.wordpress.com

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It feels good to be writing again after all the tragedy of the past few months. Today I’m honored to be featured over at themitchroush.com. His monthly series, “Music Changed Me” showcases people he knows and loves sharing the music that has impacted their lives. My piece focuses on disliking the word “secular” being used to label songs that are sacred to me, and the love song I have on repeat during this season of healing.

I’ve known Mitch for over 20 years, and oh the stories I could share about him. Ha! He’s an incredible man. Take some time to get to know him through his writing. He does an excellent job weaving faith and creativity throughout all he does.

It brings joy to my soul to hear him describe me this way: “Niki is one of the most eloquent feather-rufflers I know. An edgy soul, not out of attention, but out of a fierce love that has no other way of being expressed. She’s passionate and wants nothing more than for everyone to have a place at the table.”

Thank you, Mitch. That means a lot to me!

Here’s a teaser:

Music is one of my love languages.

If my inner 80’s child were to make you a mix tape and share with you the soundtrack of my life, you’d grin and possibly groan at the quirky variety of my musical tastes.  I bet you’d find something that suits your tastes too. Now and then, I get stuck on a song to help me through a particular season, repeating it until the music cleanses me or the season passes.

– See more at: http://www.themitchroush.com/music-changed-me-13-love-on-repeat

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