A High Note

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I met Erin, a beautiful young woman with a Bohemian vibe, at a craft fair. She was displaying handmade candles in her booth when she stopped to chat with me about Mr. Paxton, a middle school chorus teacher who made a lasting impact on her life.

I have always loved to sing, but I was painfully shy as a child. In chorus, I could sing my heart out without standing out. I enjoyed being part of a group, creating harmonies and blending different vocal tones together. Mr. Paxton assessed our individual progress regularly by listening to us practice scales. He knew the anxiety I felt; so he let me come in early to do my assessments before the other chorus members arrived. Mr. Paxton usually started with compliments then suggested some ways to improve. One day, he asked me to try out for a solo part in an upcoming competition. I felt pleased and petrified at the same time. He tried to explain that stage fright is normal and that even accomplished singers experience fear.

During the weeks leading up to the tryouts, Mr. Paxton demonstrated deep breathing and relaxation techniques. He taught me how to visualize performing successfully in front of a crowd. He asked a few of my friends to come in before class and listen to me practice. Before I knew it, that early crowd grew to a dozen friends. When it was time to tryout, I felt nervous but ready. I got the solo part, and Mr. Paxton helped me prepare to sing at the competition. We didn’t win, but it was a big victory for me.

Today I lead a worship and praise ensemble at my church. Sometimes I still get anxious, but I use the skills Mr. Paxton taught me to overcome my nerves. I believe that he unlocked my gift, and I love to share that gift with others.

Erin’s story made me reflect on the way that growing in confidence leads to growing in competence. Confidence in one area often spills into other facets of students’ lives. Mr. Paxton gave Erin the chance to focus on her future instead of her fear, and she continues to use his enduring lessons. How has a teacher helped you to grow in confidence? What lasting impact did it make in your life? Share in the comments below.

Wishing you an endless supply of chalk and chances-


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