This week’s featured board member is Tony Strickler. Tony has served on the board for 4 years, 3 as our Treasurer. By day he is the Vice President of Credit at Sweetwater and he has been there for 23 years. He also serves as treasurer on the Board of Director as his church where he has attended for 16 years. He grew up in Decatur and went to Ball State University. He and his wife, Jill, have been married for 27 years. They have two daughters: Allison, a 2016 Purdue Graduate who is now working at Lutheran Hospital, and Cassidy, a freshman at Purdue studying chemical engineering.
This week’s featured staff member is Susie Peirce, Communication & Grants Manager. Susie has been with FWCC for 6 years. She was originally hired to fill a nine-month interim position and was invited to stay. We are glad she did!
Susie grew up in Goshen, Indiana, and moved to Fort Wayne to attend Parkview-Methodist School of Nursing. Upon graduation, she worked a year as evening charge nurse in the Parkview surgery and for 11 years with Orthopaedics Northeast as a hospital rounding nurse. Once she and her husband started a family, she chose to stay home with their children until they were in middle and high school. Upon returning to employment, she has worked as a church administrator, elementary school media clerk and TV producer, educational outreach coordinator, literacy initiative assistant, and consultant.
When she is not working, she enjoys traveling to visit with friends and family, spending time with their grandgirls, reading, needlework, bicycling, and walking. This October, she and her husband will take their second long bicycle trip. Last year they biked 150 miles from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, MD, and this year they will bike the Katy Trail (260 miles) across the state of Missouri.
Here’s a little bit more about Susie:
1- What do you like best about working with FWCC? I appreciate working with an incredibly talented and committed staff. They are extremely knowledgeable and possess an incredible work ethic. Although I really have limited contact with the singers, I do have the opportunity to interact with their families. I really admire the commitment from the parents/guardians to their children and our organization.
2- What is your favorite FWCC memory? I will never forget the Concert Choir’s performance at the ACDA conference in Chicago. Compared to the size of the other performing groups on their program, the Concert ensemble was small. And then they sang…incredible! Their level of intensity and passion was heard in their voices. The audience’s response was confirmation that everyone there had witnessed an extraordinary performance.
3- How would you describe the culture of FWCC? The culture of the FWCC is supportive, encouraging, and caring. This is present in the administrative and artistic staff and their interactions with the children and their families, as well as the singers and their contact with other FWCC members.
4- In your own words, why should a child consider joining FWCC? I believe it is important for children to participate in activities that interest them. But I also realize that there are some extra-curricular choices that can impact a child’s life. Singing in the FWCC is one of those choices. Children have the opportunity to have extraordinary directors, meet children from communities throughout northeast Indiana, perform for thousands of people in unusual venues, and at the same time, receive a music education that is second to none. This combination of intellectual and physical experiences is extraordinary.
Just like all non-profits, we have a board of directors who lead us in developing vision and ensuring we have the finances in place to continue offering valuable programs. We could not do what we do without their guidance and dedication.
Meet Kathryn Lemish, Vice Chair of FWCC’s Board of Directors. Kathryn grew up in Kendallville and how resides in Huntertown with her husband Dave and their two daughters, Nora and Amelia. She is an Assistant Vice President at Lincoln Financial Group in Fort Wayne, where she has worked for 17 years. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music in 1998. Even though she doesn’t have a full-time job in music, she has continued to work with area marching bands and winter drumlines, both teaching and arranging the percussion music for fall marching band shows with her husband.
We had an opportunity to ask her a few questions to get to know her better:
Meet Phyllis, FWCC’s Lyric Choir Director. Phyllis grew up in Fort Wayne and attended North Side High School where she majored in music with a theater minor. She attended Ball State for a year to major in Music Education, but due to a family illness, she returned to Fort Wayne and completed her degree at IPFW as a voice major. She taught at several Fort Wayne schools before obtaining the Music Teacher/Choir Director position at Weisser Park Arts Magnet. She also has 2 levels of Orff from IPFW, 2 levels of Creating Artistry for Choral Conductors from the Indianapolis Children’s Choir at Butler University, and received her Kodaly from Capital University. Phyllis is married and has 2 sons that are FWCC alumni – each spending about 10 years of their lives in the choir. She has 2 grandchildren that she’s hoping will be able to audition soon. She is also the Children’s Music Director at First Wayne Street United Methodist Church and a member of Heartland Sings! She is also the IMEA Area 2 Elementary Coordinator for the Circle The State With Song choir festival that is held at IPFW each February. I guess you could say that she loves choir!
1 – How long have I been with the FWCC? That’s a tricky question. I started observing and assisting the directors in the late 90’s when my sons, Gabe and Conrad, were part of the choir. I was fascinated by what the directors were able to accomplish with the singers. I asked then Artistic Director Fred Meads if I could observe him to learn more. Eventually, he introduced me to Janet Ormiston, the director of the Chorister Choir. I asked her if I could be her assistant, and she agreed. I assisted Mrs. Ormiston, typically on a volunteer basis, until she was ready to retire in 2006. I just happened to be completing my Music Education degree at IPFW in 2006, so Mr. Meads offered me the Chorister Choir Director position. I directed Chorister Choir until the Lyric Choir position became available. I have been directing Lyric Choir since.
2 – What do I like best about working with the FWCC? My favorite thing is meeting and working with the children. I LOVE teaching them how to understand the music literacy part of the songs they are singing. Of course, there are many other wonderful experiences that FWCC provides… excellent staff to work with, tours, etc.
Each fall, the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir hosts the Choral Music Educator’s Workshop for teachers from Northeast Indiana and Northwest Ohio. This program brings dozens of educators together to learn a variety of music education methods from well-known clinicians. The workshop is held in the Rhinehart Music Center on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne and music students are invited to participate, as well.
This year’s guest clinician is Pamela Pierson. Mrs. Pierson is the Associate Artistic Director of the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir. Currently, she serves as a Limited Term Lecturer at IPFW, teaching courses in music education. She previously worked at Lakewood Park Christian School, where she held positions as Elementary Principal and Assistant Superintendent. Prior to her work as a school administrator, she taught elementary music in the Fort Wayne Community School district where she was also appointed to a position as the Elementary Music Liaison. She is a past board member of the Indiana Music Educators Association and Area 2 coordinator for the Circle of the State with Song. She frequently presents at educational conferences and workshops. Mrs. Pierson received her Bachelor’s degree from Taylor University- Fort Wayne and completed both her Master’s degree and the Principal Licensure Program at Indiana Wesleyan University. She is also certified in Levels 1 and 2 of Orff-Schulwerk.
I ALREADY DO THAT! Discovering the Ways Music Teaches Comprehension
This workshop will identify the ways in which music instruction contributes to the development of comprehension. Mrs. Pierson will define specific comprehension strategies and provide instructional activities straight from the music classroom that address each of the specific strategies. Activities will include singing games, theory and music listening activities, rhythm games, and ideas for incorporating children’s literature. The evening will also include a “Make It, Take It” element, so educators will leave with items ready for student use the next day. The next time your school administrator asks you to incorporate literacy into your music classroom, you can say, “Let me show you how I already do that!”
Registration: 4:00-4:30 pm
Workshop: 4:30-7:30 pm
Fee: $30 (includes meal & materials), or $10 currently enrolled college student
Location: IPFW Rhinehart Music Center, Room 120
Deadline: Friday, September 29
Reserve your spot now! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (260) 481-0481 with any questions.
Or, register ONLINE.
This week’s alumni update comes from Hope Swanson Smith. Hope was a member of FWCC from 2002 to 2009. Her mom is our Administrative Assistant and Financial Manager, so she spends a lot of time at big FWCC events as a volunteer. She loves that she still gets to be a small part of this organization and see singers mature as musicians and as people.
Hope works in Mail Services at Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company. She is trained in two additional areas so she can work wherever she is needed most. Musically, she sings with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Chorus, something she recommends for any FWCC alum, and she is part of the worship team at her church.
1- What is your favorite FWCC memory?
I know it’s a cliche, but how do you choose just one memory out of seven years? I’d have to say performing Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana in 2005 with a small ensemble of fellow Concert Choir members, Heartland, and the South Bend Chamber Chorale. We got to travel and perform in a few different cities, and I fell in love with the work. I’ve had the opportunity to perform Carmina twice since then, and I always think of how far I’ve come in the past eleven years.
2- How did involvement with FWCC impact your life?
Beyond all the music education and the friendships I still have, I learned how to be part of something larger than myself. When you sing in a choir, you learn the importance of blending and harmonizing with your fellow singers. As an adult in a work place, I appreciate the humility that this taught me. There is a time and place for being the soloist, but it’s so important to be willing to step back and help create a better experience for everyone.
3- Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I want to give advice to all FWCC members and alumni: Never stop meeting new people and making music with them. Find a place to sing karaoke. Join a community chorus. Start a band. Find a way to sing or play with others. Collaborating with the people around you is a life-giving experience and there is nothing like it.
Welcome to our newest feature, Meet the Board. We have been highlighting staff members and alumni, and now it’s time to introduce you to some of our behind-the-scenes volunteers who make it all happen. Just like all non-profits, we have a board of directors who lead us in developing vision and ensuring we have the finances in place to continue offering valuable programs. We could not do what we do without their guidance and dedication.
First up, meet Carrie Minnich, FWCC’s Board Chair extraordinaire. Carrie is originally from Goshen, Indiana, and attended Manchester University, where she met her husband John. They were both accounting majors. After graduation, they both accepted jobs at CPA firms in Indianapolis. In 2004, they moved to Fort Wayne, John’s hometown.
“2004 was a big year for us, as we moved to a new city, got married, bought a house, and started new jobs all within a few months,” Carrie says.
Carrie has been with with Dulin Ward and Dewald (DWD), a CPA firm here in Fort Wayne, ever since and became a director/shareholder in January. She specializes in nonprofits, working with them to make our community a better place to live. She also writes DWD’s Mission Minded blog, a source of best practices for nonprofit organizations, covering everything from board governance to unrelated business income and 990’s.
Both Carrie and John are active in the community, volunteering with various nonprofit organizations and attending community events. In addition to serving as our board chair, Carrie serves on The Community Foundation’s audit committee, and she is the advisory CPA board member for the Upstate Alliance of Realtors. She also serves on the Indiana CPA Society Leadership Cabinet.
In her free time, she enjoys running, watching sports (especially Colts and Notre Dame football), and attending community events, Komets hockey games, and TinCaps baseball games.
We had the opportunity to ask her a few questions:
1- How long have you volunteered for FWCC? I joined the FWCC board in June 2013. When I tell people that I serve on the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir board, they usually assume I either have a child in the choir or have a musical background. I have neither. I grew up playing sports and participating in 4-H, so the Choir is something totally different for me. I think it’s pretty amazing what Jonathan and the staff teach the kids.
I was asked to serve on the board by a former FWCC board member after my involvement with Foellinger’s Community Interest Grant Review Committee.
2- What were you most surprised to learn about FWCC after getting involved? What the kids know! I attended a rehearsal for the Lyric Choir and was amazed at the interaction between the kids and Pam Pierson and what they were learning.
3- Why do you think FWCC is important to our community? The mission of FWCC is to provide a choral program exemplifying artistic and educational excellence for children from diverse backgrounds, but children participating in FWCC are gaining so much more than a solid music education. FWCC is developing these children to be good citizens. The Choir provides them with an appreciation for music, teamwork, and leadership skills, social skills, appreciation of diversity and creativity. Studies have been done showing that children who participate in children’s choirs grow up to be more active in their community. They volunteer more, contribute more financially to philanthropic organizations, and exhibit greater civic leadership.
Each summer, members of our older ensembles go on tour– every few years abroad, while remaining stateside in the years between.
Meet Pam Pierson, Associate Artistic Director. Pam has been working on and off with FWCC since the mid-nineties conducting various choirs. Over the years, she has conducted the Lyric Choir, Treble Choir, Chorister Choir and the DeKalb County Community Choir. She graduated from Taylor University, Fort Wayne with a degree in music education. After 18 years teaching elementary music in Fort Wayne Community Schools and after earning degrees in curriculum development and school administration, she became an elementary principal and eventually the assistant superintendent of a private school in Auburn, where she lives. For the past year, she has been teaching courses in music education at IPFW and supervising student teachers. When she is not making music with kids or preparing pre-service teachers for that responsibility, she enjoys time with family, quilting, and curling up with a good book. She is especially thankful for her husband Ed who is a contact source of support and encouragement.
Whew! What a week! Over 250 singers enjoyed meeting their directors and new friends (or reconnecting for some of our returning singers), and a week full of singing, dancing, drama, and more at Choralfest 2017. Choralfest is our annual summer camp that kicks off our season. This year, we have our largest choir in 10 years and after this week, we are even more excited for the coming season.
The week culminated in a FREE concert on Friday at the Foellinger Theatre. What a turnout! Over 1,000 people came out to support our singers. This year’s theme was Wild, Wild West, and our singers enjoyed singing western themed songs– from Buffalo Gals to Songs of the Cowboys, Red River Dances, Old Dan Tucker, and many more favorites. At the end of the evening, over 25 alumni joined us on stage to sing Happy Trails.
Special thanks to our directors, guest instructors, Youth Chorale helpers, and parents who assisted last week. We could not have done it without you.