Good Things Come in Threes
As is tradition in fairy tales, jokes, and films, good things often come in threes. So it stands to reason that, when Harford County, Md., hired recent 2015 Lebanon Valley College grads, what could be better than three of them? Stephanie George, Jordyn Shields, and Sabrina Fellenbaum offer an interesting cross section of the Harford music program, working in an elementary, middle, and high school respectively. However, despite all three majoring in music education, each has taken on a drastically different role at their schools.
George, now a music teacher at Havre de Grace elementary school, is unique among the trio in that she is the only one of the three to decide on teaching later on in life. Although she was initially determined to pursue veterinary sciences, she realized that music was her true passion, an epiphany that directly led to her enrollment at LVC.
“I had always secretly wanted to do music, but I didn’t think I was good enough,” she said.
George’s views on her own talent changed as she made her way through LVC, transitioning easily into the teaching lifestyle thanks to plenty of experience with student teaching. As a teacher at a Title 1 school, she quickly found that her students had more needs to be met and that it could sometimes be difficult to provide properly for them. Despite the challenge, she believes that having such an influence on her student’s lives is incredibly rewarding.
Moving up to the early teens, Jordyn Shields focuses on teaching voice at Aberdeen Middle School. Shields has ties to Harford County, having lived there in her youth and her aunt teaching at one of the district’s elementary schools. Inspired by her choral directors in middle and high school, she aims to create a similar connection with her students to turn their individual talents into a “product that they can be proud of.”
With the older age group comes an entirely different set of responsibilities and difficulties. Growing pains and peer group pressures are among the many challenges of teaching this age group. As far as Shields is concerned, this gives her the added responsibility of ensuring that their socializing doesn’t interfere with class time.
“It’s sometimes difficult to balance because they just want to be heard… all the time,” said Shields.
Though Shields spent much of her first semester establishing a connection with her students, she is happy with how LVC prepared her for a career in education, noting that four years of schooling have given her the resources she needs to prosper. What makes the whole process worthwhile to her is hearing the sound made by her budding vocalists.
“The kids are great,” said Shields. “They have so much energy that makes me feel alive.”
Meanwhile, at North Harford High School, Sabrina Fellenbaum is adjusting to the unique experience of teaching kids only a few years younger than she is. In her short time at the school, she has been mistaken for a high school student multiple times by teachers and parents. In addition to performing her duties as an instrumental teacher, Fellenbaum has also taken on the responsibility of working with her school’s marching band. As a marching band member throughout high school and college, she feels that, despite the added responsibility, she made the right choice in profession.
Like George and Shields, Fellenbaum spent much of her senior year participating in student teaching.
“I really didn’t feel like a college student at all during my last semester at LVC,” said Fellenbaum. “It felt more like I was a teacher that happened to live on a college campus.”
Fellenbaum may be swamped by work, but like the other two alumni, seeing the students grow makes her teaching feel important. However, working with high school students bestows its own unique set of quirks.
“From one student falling head first on the band room floor and getting a concussion to a band mom telling her daughter to run off the field in the middle of our halftime performance if she sees lightning to a secretary yelling at me for making copies because she thinks I'm 15 years old, there is always something to keep me on my toes,” recounted Fellenbaum.
Lately, the lives of these three alumni have been irrevocably changed, touched by the efforts of their students and maybe just a little bit stressed from their busy teaching schedules. No matter how crazy their lives get, all three are excited for the opportunity to do what they love and whatever surprises Harford County will bring next.