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SMC alumna shares music teaching experiences

| Monday, March 23, 2015

Saint Mary’s welcomed alumna Anne Pugliese Kasprzak and her Neuqua Valley High School Chamber Singers on Monday.

Zae Munn from the Department of Music introduced Kasprzak, who graduated with a music education degree and high honors in 1994. Kasprzak also received department awards in both music and education during her time at Saint Mary’s.

Kasprzak is currently the director of the Chamber Singers at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, Illinois, and serves as the piano accompanist at the Holy Spirit Catholic Community, also in Naperville, Munn said in her introduction. Kasprzak has been a member of the Young Naperville Singers’ Artistic Staff for 11 years as their director, Munn said. 

Kasprzak said her all-women choir is preparing for a multicultural concert and previewed their selections for the Saint Mary’s community. The choir performed a South African freedom song, a traditional children’s song from the islands off the coast of northern Australia and other pieces from different cultures.

Kasprzak said she has worked at a number of schools, including elementary, middle and high schools, with different levels of choral performances.

“My first teaching job was at an all-girls high school outside of Chicago,” Kasprzak said. “I walked into a program that had five different teachers in six years. There was no curriculum, there was no piano. … That year was a big growing year for me. I had to explore and find my own skills.”

Kasprzak said she arrived at Neuqua Valley High School when she realized she needed to be around colleagues from whom she could learn more and who could help her grow as a teacher.

“Learning only begins the day you graduate from Saint Mary’s,” she said. “There is so much out there that you will learn in your field as you do it. I thought being in this school where I am the only music teacher, I’m not going to grow as a professional.”

Kasprzak saidt the degree she earned at the College has enabled her to have various jobs, all of which she was passionate about.

“One of the things I never realized 21 years ago was how many opportunities are available to someone with a degree in music education,” Kasprzak said. “I’ve been able to find work during all phases of my life. From days when I was single and my whole life revolved around my job to now, when I have two young children and a newborn at home, I feel so lucky to have been able to adapt my career to my different life situations and circumstances.

“Not every field works that way,” she said. “It truly is a rewarding career with many opportunities. You just have to look for them.”

Teaching is a challenging but hugely rewarding career, Kasprzak said.

“Teaching is an art form that continually develops through the years,” Kasprzak said. “The more you do it, the better you get at it. You will make mistakes. Own them, and learn from them.

“Grow from the challenges you will face inside and outside the classroom. Teaching is a career that requires a lot of energy, passion and commitment. Find joy in your students and remember that learning never ends.”

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About Nicole Caratas

Nicole is a senior English Writing and Humanistic Studies double major at Saint Mary's College. Now a senior news writer, she previously served as the Saint Mary's Editor. She was born in real Chicago but grew up in the suburbs, and she currently lives in Opus Hall.

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