Choir teacher decides to shift focus next year

Donald Halbmaier/Staff Writer

Cedar Falls High School is bidding “fare thee well” to four-year choir teacher Kendra Wohlert. It is never a good thing for a high school to lose a teacher, let alone the director of its entire choral program.

Understanding the impact of her decision, Wohlert has taken it nowhere near lightly.

“It has been the hardest professional decision I’ve ever had to make. It has been a long thought out decision with many mind changes.”

Junior Choir President Elect Catherine Dunbar commented how how she feels about how the choir will be after Wohlert departs.

“I think the choir will be sad without Wohlert there to make us ‘smell the flower of the day’ or listen to one of her awesome stories about Henry (Wohlert’s son) or her time in Africa, but most people in choir are looking at the future of the choir program with an optimistic stand. We know she’s not going to leave us in bad hands and would rather continue teaching than give over all she’s worked for to someone who wouldn’t be up to the challenge of working with a bunch of choir nerds.”

Wohlert also says that it is strictly a personal decision.

“My decision was prompted by the early death of a best friend who was also a choral director at the beginning of last summer. She had two young kids. It just hit me hard that she didn’t have much time with her children as she could have.” She added, “I’m not preaching for what other women should do, but I just want to make nutritious meals from our garden and take Henry to and from school, which takes time.”

After a brief reflection, Wohlert looked back on her years here at Cedar Falls High School. Even with her diagnoses of Hypothyroidism several years ago, she says her years have changed her forever.

“From my first year here being so difficult and having to figure out a way to turn it around to try to find a positive space for singers. That was a real personal evolution for me. Now how people comment on how positive and beautiful the singers are, and the feedback I get from parents, students and faculty. I just feel like the positive energy that exudes from the choral rehearsals is infectious, and I think it has fed me and my love for music making,” Wohlert said.

She will also continue with her love for making music even after she has gone.

“I plan to get more involved in my church’s music program as well as start a herb and gardening business with my friend.”

President of Choirs Senior Sara Strever gave a few words about how much of an inspiration Wohlert has been on her all three years of her high school career as well on how she works with her choir.

“I could talk for hours about the profound difference she has made in my life regarding simply music: the process of learning notes/rhythms, learning how to sing forward and control my voice or learning music history,” Stever said.

“For the sake of bettering the student’s musical education and the program, she is always willing to go the extra mile for her students. During All-State and Solo-Ensemble, she is always willing to accommodate her schedule to students, coming into the school on weekends, staying late into the evenings and be right on time for the early, early morning practices. However, she has gone beyond the role as simply a choir director; she has personally inspired me to be a better person, challenging me to go beyond my comfort zone on and off stage.

“Her door was always open for me to come and talk, offering an ear to listen or to offer advice concerning music, life, love and everything in between. When first learning a piece, I always look forward to the wisdom she offers beyond musical text, giving her input on how to interpret the music, which ultimately makes a world of difference when performing on and off the stage. I cannot think of a person that has made a greater impact on me during my high school career, and I am so grateful for the time that I have had with her.” Strever said.

Wohlert summed up all her feelings in one final saying.

“I will miss my job, but I won’t regret the decision to leave.”

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