Each month, three teachers are selected to be honored as "Teacher of the Month" by local Rotary clubs in Fort Collins. Meet this month's teachers: Melissa Flail, Rhonda Ewan and Nicole Hallenbeck.
Melissa Flail, JSSC and Cache La Poudre Elementary
"I was all set for a career as a musical theatre performer. I earned my bachelor's and master's degrees in vocal performance, and was getting my doctorate when a friend called and asked if I wanted to be a choir teacher in New Mexico. I said no again and again, but he kept calling. I started there on an emergency teaching license. And I discovered I'm meant to be in teaching. My favorite thing is to see kids go on in music and be successful and find their voice — that can have a lasting effect on them. Music can offer an equal opportunity to a lot of students who otherwise might not have one. It can really lead to confidence and achievement. When students come back and they want to share their voice with others — that's the most amazing thing."
Rhonda Ewan, Shepardson Elementary
"I knew I always wanted to be a teacher because I loved my third grade teacher — she encouraged me so much. I teach because I absolutely love working with kids of all abilities. All of my kids have some kind of special needs. Some days are a challenge, but the kids make it worth getting up every morning. They teach me so much, and I love watching them grow. Working and celebrating with them is not just fun, it's the best part."
Nicole Hallenbeck, Bennett Elementary
"I teach because I love my students, and because music is my heart, it's my passion. There's so much about music that can teach us about ourselves, and how we express ourselves. We learn about our connections as humans and our culture and community. I hope my students grow up to become patrons of music and find ways to support the local artists and musicians in their communities. I teach because of what music does for me, and I hope that students find that same passion and way to express themselves as well."