• November 18, 2019

Hays music program aims for fun - Odessa American: Community

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Hays music program aims for fun

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Posted: Saturday, October 19, 2019 6:11 pm

Krystal Stefani is all about making music fun for her Hays STEAM Academy students while they learn.

Stefani, who is in her first year with Ector County ISD, sees prekindergarten through fifth grade students. She has two donors choose projects going. One is Books, Books Baby to bring literacy to the classroom and the other is Boomwackers and Handbells and Drums, Oh My!

The STEAM part of the school’s name stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math.

“Right now, I have a few books and a lot of people don’t think of reading a book when you’re in a music class, but there’s a lot of really cool things that we can do with books. So my DonorsChoose has about 50 books on there; a whole bunch of books. We use them mostly with the younger grades, so we’ll read the book I’ll give them a few instruments and we might add sound effects to a book. If something is happening that’s really exciting, I might have someone crash the cymbals or there’s a book called Mortimer where he walks down the stairs and so I might have a kid on the xylophone going do, do, do going down the stairs, so just trying to incorporate books all around,” Stefani said.

There are a lot of books with song titles, so with the younger grades she might read the book first, show them the pictures and then teach them the song so they have something to base it on, she said.

She wants to build up the supply of instruments because many of them are old, broken and almost unusable.

“We’re working on it. We’re building it up. It’s taking time, but we’ll get there,” Stefani said.

She noted that want she needs for her portable classroom is not expensive, but it’s important. 

“A lot of the stuff I have on the Boomwackers and Handbells and Drums, I have them here but I don’t have enough for each student so we have to take a lot of time taking turns like you go first and then you go. If everyone had an instrument, it would be so much easier to just do the lesson that I have planned in the first place instead of spending time on taking turns and switching with your partner and all of that,” Stefani said.

Stefani also has expanded the honor choir to include third grade, so now it includes third through fifth-grade students.

“We have 43 kids, which is a lot because the (classrooms) are really small, so it’s a lot of kids which I’m super excited about. We have a concert coming up in November. We’re going to be singing at the Merry Marketplace luncheon …,” she added.

The students also will be singing at ECISD’s Veterans Day celebration, which she said is at Hays this year.

She added that former music teacher Allison Santiago set the foundation for what she’s building on at Hays now. 

Stefani moved to Odessa from Michigan. Her boyfriend, Kenny Davis, an associate choir director at Crockett Middle School, encouraged her to come here. She earned a bachelor of music education (instrumental) from Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant.

She said the fine arts are “really awesome” in ECISD and Texas in general.

“It’s just a whole different playing field compared to other states, so I was excited to get down here.

Her classes involve a lot of getting up and moving around.

“… These kids work so hard,” Stefani said. “It is a magnet school, so they test to get in here and they really are working nonstop all day and they’re very good at what they do. They’re very good at academics, but when they come in here it’s like a little release and an escape and they can just goof around in the best way possible and just make some music. These kids all love music so much that it makes my job easy, so we really do we just have fun in here. It’s awesome.”

There is a fifth-grade program coming up Oct. 17. The Honor Choir is performing Nov. 14 and Dec. 12 is the fourth-grade program.

She said she created the fifth-grade program herself.

“We’re doing Hays through the decades. … I wrote out all the speaking parts. We’re going to sing a little song from each decade. They’re going to dress from different decades and that’s going to be fun. …,” Stefani said.

“(The) Honor Choir is more like a standard choir program, so it’s not a theme per se, but just I pick music and we do that. And then our winter program will be “A Bug’s Christmas,” so it’s all about bugs and the termites ruining Christmas because they ate the Christmas tree …,” she added.

“The art teacher is going to help me out. We’re  going to create little headbands and they’re going to make their costumes in art and then we’ll get to see them at the show,” Stefani said.

The students all think the class is “awesome.”

Nine-year-old Giovanni Reynoso said he enjoys the Honor Choir. He said the class is different than it was last year and he likes all the decorations Stefani has up.

“I also like that she shows something different from what we think about Christmas — more different than what you usually expect,” Reynoso said.

According to the DonorsChoose.org website, the site connects teachers in high-need communities with donors who want to help.



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