Musical mentor

Lower division music teacher has a background in ragtime and jazz, says providing her students with a safe and loving environment among her top priorities. 

Patricia Hall is an accomplished professional musician who for many years had performed all over the world. But when her now-grown son was born, she decided to go back to college and get her master's degree in order to teach. She began her first teaching job after her son started school.

"I became a teacher after my son started pre-kindergarten, said Hall, who has a B.A. from Wayne State University and an M.M. in music education from Oakland University. "I wanted a job back then that would allow me to spend time with him, plus, I was really impressed with his school at the time and his pre-kindergarten teacher."

Hall's son went to a Quaker school and he didn't really know he was at school until the fourth grade, according to Hall.

"He was learning primarily through play at the same time he was developing friendships that are still strong today," she said. "So I wanted to provide that kind of environment for the children in my classrooms."

'Respect and support'

Before coming to Notre Dame, Hall taught music in public schools to students in pre-kindergarten through high school. But now, well into her third year as the music teacher in NDPMA's lower division, she's still very happy she decided to become a teacher. She also said she thoroughly enjoys working with the younger students at Notre Dame, which made quite an impression on her in the beginning. 

"The first thing I noticed about Notre Dame when I got here was the respect and support given to the teachers," said Hall, the youngest of seven children and the third educator in her family. "I realized that at Notre Dame, teachers are treated as professionals and are respected for the expertise they bring to their classrooms."

Hall also was struck by the quality of the school's music department and singled out the choral activity.

"I was so very impressed with Mr. [Dave] Fazzini's choir," she said. "I heard them at the first all-school mass I attended and was totally blown away by the singing. I feel very blessed to have such a wonderful model for my young students to experience."

Diana Atkins, the lower division's principal, also feels blessed to have someone of Hall's caliber teaching the students.

"Under the direction of Ms. Hall our music department has grown immensely," Atkins said. "Patricia has very high expectations for the students, but couples that with strong support for them so they can reach their full potential. Plus, even though her training is in chorus, our band has reached new heights under her leadership. Ms. Hall is a wonderful addition to the lower division."

Children are sacred

For Hall, day in and day out she remains totally focused on what she says is the most important part of her job.

"The children at Notre Dame are the most important part of my job," she said. "I believe that children are sacred, and my responsibility as an adult is to provide them with a safe and loving environment in which to learn. I also believe that all children need to experience success and I feel a personal responsibility to help them achieve it. I think the best part of my job is seeing the confidence children develop when they realize they can accomplish their goals, not matter what they are."

Even though Hall is very content with what she now does for a living, she knows there's always something she could be doing if she wasn't teaching young Notre Damers. 

"If I wasn't working in a school, I would probably be back performing full time, said Hall, who specializes in ragtime music and performs during the summer at jazz festivals throughout Michigan as well as in New Orleans. "But even while playing, I continue to educate as most of my performances involve informing the audience about all the great composers whose work I am presenting."


Comments or questions? mkelly@ndpma.org.
 
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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The school's upper division enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at www.ndpma.org



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