IN TUNE, WITH HONORS

Pulaski teachers helping with WSMA music project
By: 

Bob Van Enkenvoort Special to the Leader

Two Pulaski teachers are playing important roles in the Wisconsin School Music Association’s State Honors Music Project (WSMA), program manager Victoria Donahue said.

Pulaski Community Middle School (PCMS) band teacher Tim Kozlovsky is operations manager for the second straight year and has served in other roles previously. Choir teacher Amy Wright is the accompanist for the WSMA school mixed choir.

While they are giving their expertise to talented state high schools musicians, the duo says they, too, get much back in the process. That, in turn, benefits PCMS students.

Donahue described Koslowsky’s role in the program.

“A lot of his duties happen with the schedule and being there to assist, for instance, if instruments are needed. He helps with loading and unloading of equipment in October,” she said. “It is pretty much anything that is needed at the time and it is a lot of: ‘We don’t know what is coming until somebody asks and then somebody gets up and does it.’ We are very active behind the scenes taking care of last-minute issues that comes up.”

Donahue said that Wright was highly recommended by her peers.

“We always take recommendations from other teachers on who they think would be a good fit for the honors program,” Donahue said.

Wright is at the piano for every rehearsal for the mixed honors choir. She also helps with sectionals if needed for accompanying for one of the sectionals. This is her second year in the program.

The two teachers work with students at the summer camp at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, as well as at the band and choir performances in Madison in October. All staff members also serve as chaperones during the June camp and October performances.

“All of our staff are highly recommended not only because of their talent but also because of what they do with students in the classroom,” Donahue said. “They are wonderful teachers and do great things with programs at their schools, and so we bring them together, and we contract with renowned conductors from anywhere in the United States and they come in and they get to work first-hand with those people.”

They have the chance to spend time with the renowned conductors. “It’s a great time to get to know them, as well, and not just see them on the podium,” Donahue said.

One thing that is nice about the honors program, Donahue said, is that participants can bring things back to their classrooms.

“It’s not only a great experience while you’re there, but you can get new ideas about repertoire or new ideas for warm-ups or for teaching different techniques,” Donahue said. “So, it is definitely a learning opportunity for staff as well so that they bring things back to their classrooms to their own students once they go back home. It can be a direct impact for their teaching, as well.”

Kozlovsky said participants are also able to network and build relationships with other state music educators and that helps broaden his music world perspective. Also, “I get to be part of a high-achieving group of musicians and aid in their success.”

​The knowledge he gains from observing and having conversations with world-class conductors​ comes back to his PCMS classroom.

“It inspires me to help my students reach higher standards because I become aware of what the real potential of kids their age can be,” Kozlovsky said.

Wright, too, has been able to network and learn from her peers.

“I have had the opportunity to meet many additional music colleagues that I may not cross paths with on a normal day-to-day basis,” Wright said. “The opportunity to collaborate with them and learn from them and with them has been invaluable.”

She has also had the opportunity to work with and learn from some of the most top-notch musicians from across the state of Wisconsin and hear their personal stories.

“This has further solidified my belief that music education is critical in developing 21st century skills such as collaboration, creativity, flexibility and leadership,” Wright said. “These kids are learning so much more than just note names and rhythms. Music provides them the opportunity to become some of the best problem solvers and communicators, as well as instilling in them a strong work ethic and a passion and drive for life.”

Wright has taken many things that she has learned from the students, her colleagues, and the group’s conductor back to the classroom and has used them to help her students.

“I always enjoy seeing the students take ownership over their own music experiences and watching them enjoy the rewards they reap,” Wright said. “Being a part of an experience like this allows me to see how other music directors run and organize their programs and it allows me to make sure that I am running my classroom in a comparable way in order to ensure that our students in Pulaski remain competitive and continue to benefit from musical enrichment opportunities.”