There is so much in our world that people focus on and worry about. When I get a bit overwhelmed by the news and things happening around the world, I try to take a step back and focus on the things that are important to me in my life — my family, my friends, my health, and my job. I quickly see how so many of these things in my life are connected through the Academy.

My immediate family consists of my husband, me, and my daughter, Ellie, who started in HATS this year. I was the parent on the first morning of school that held it together pretty well until I said goodbye in the Gallery, and then I had to rush away to stop the tears from flowing (I blame the pregnancy hormones). I feel so fortunate to have a job where I get to see my child at lunch every day, get a little hug or finger wave as we pass in the hallway, and even teach her in music class two times a week!

My daughter has made connections and friends with many older students in our school — Mary, Mhelaney, Hadley, Mitchell — these special friendships that she would not have made had she not been a student here. The Academy allows opportunities for my husband, daughter, and I to connect with other families and make friends with other parents who care deeply for the education of their children, and for that I am grateful.

My teacher friends have been a constant support for me through busy musical seasons and concerts, throwing ideas out there to improve our fine and performing arts department or Early Childhood / Lower School programs. I value the friendships I have made over the years in our professional and personal lives, and it is a wonderful thing to have other teachers and staff be available for a decompression session after work, or adult social time as well. Mr. Gamon, Ms. Davis, and I work very well together, and we balance out to make a strong department. Even though we don’t always agree, we care deeply for our students and the program we have worked so hard to develop, and we are able to solve problems and do the best for our students.

This year, I will go on maternity leave (Dec. 19 is my due date) and I have been able to stay relatively stress-free throughout the first marking period. Yes, I work hard to plan my lessons and concert programs, and teaching students can sometimes be stressful and tiring, but when I reflect back on past job positions and my stress level within the public education system, I am in such a better place working at the Academy.

The class sizes make it possible to really get to know our students. I am able to teach at a much higher level in my general music classes than I did in public education. I value the connections I have made with my students here, and even though I may feel the need for a nap at the end of a school day, I really appreciate feeling valued by the administration, staff, faculty, and students.

It is easy for people to fall into a negative focus within their lives. This Thanksgiving season, I urge you to focus on the positive things, and think about what you are thankful for. I feel so fortunate to be a part of the Harrisburg Academy community. Steve Jobs said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” I’ll go further and add … “And love where you do it.”

Learn more about Harrisburg Academy on our school website.