Those who can, teach. Those who can’t go into some less significant line of work
~Anonymous, from a coffee mug given me by a student 25 years ago
Dr. Verna Brummett can teach.
She was my elementary music teacher in Lee’s Summit, and then my junior high choral teacher. I’ve stayed in touch with her for nearly four more decades.
This morning, just days before she is due to retire from teaching for a second time, I visited her at the same junior high I attended in Lee’s Summit.
Verna left Lee’s Summit after teaching for a while at the high school to take a position in Berlin at the American school. She also taught in Cairo before returning the US to work on a doctorate. She retired three years ago from the music education faculty at Ithaca College, one of this country’s finest music programs.
And she returned home to the Kansas City area, got married again, and settled in to teach for a few more years in the place where she got her start.
My niece Anna has had Verna as a teacher for these past two years. That makes four of us, including my two sisters, who have learned from this extraordinary teacher.
I cannot name a single specific lesson I learned from her, all these years later, but I can point to Verna as one of the two or three reasons I am a teacher today. Her enthusiasm and liveliness were contagious to this budding young musician in 4th grade. And the fact that I thought she looked like Julie Andrews didn’t hurt a bit back then, since I was smitten with The Sound of Music.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to see her today, and to renew ties after a number of years. I wish Verna a very happy retirement on the farm with her new family, and I recall with happiness the joy that she brought me.
Here’s a track from our 8th-grade choir performance at MMEA in 1975. Verna is leading. I’m singing soprano.