Getting Personal is an email Q&A with a local personality. Here, News-Gazette staff writer Melissa Merli chats with Mahomet resident Leslie Manfredo, 51, the choral director at Mahomet-Seymour High School. Getting Personal appears first in print., in Sunday editions of The News-Gazette. In the Jan. 8 newspaper, we'll have a chat with Champaign resident Jason Lindsey, 39, a photographer.
Tell us about your job.
I share my passion for choral music with high school students by helping them to develop their singing and musical skills and by teaching them how to sing and perform choral music with beauty and artistry.
What time do you typically get up? What do you do the first hour of the morning?
Around 4:45. Eat breakfast and then work out on the treadmill, alternating days with a Pilates workout.
What did you have for lunch today? Where? With whom?
Leftover beef stew with a Slim-Fast shake in front of my computer in my office working on Madrigal dinner details with some of my students who bring their lunch into the chorus room.
Best high school memory.
Playing the part of Magnolia in our high school musical 'Showboat' during my junior year.
Tell me about your favorite pair of shoes.
I love 'cute' shoes with a bit of a heel — I'm trained by my fashion-conscious daughter, Jennifer. However, being a teacher, I am on my feet much of the day. So, unfortunately, my favorite pair of shoes are probably my black flat 'teacher' shoes. But I also love wearing sandals during the summer.
What does a perfect Sunday afternoon include?
If I've already finished my lesson planning for the week and housecleaning, then it would definitely include reading, listening to music and catching up with my family, especially if I can take advantage of some sunshine along with it.
Was there one book you read as a child that you still cherish? Own? Read?
Nancy Drew — the entire series. I still own many of the volumes.
Where on earth are you dying to go? Why?
Back to Rome, Italy. Joe, my husband, and I went in the summer of 2010. Manfredo...singing...beautiful European city. Enough said?
Tell me about your favorite pet.
I have to mention both of our girls, our two black and white tuxedo cats, Mimi and Musetta, who 'replaced' our children, Michael and Jennifer, when they left for college.
Have you discovered that you are becoming like one of your parents? Which one and how?
I hope not. No offense, Mom and Dad.
What would you order for your last meal?
Probably a small steak or shrimp. I'd probably spend my last hours doing more than eating.
What can you not live without?
That's easy. Music! And my family!
Whom do you have on your iPod?
Sinatra, Barry Manilow, jazz (Sarah Vaughn, Count Basie), lots of Broadway musicals, choral stuff, some classical.
What's the happiest memory of your life?
The birth of my children — not very original, but truly awesome.
If you could host a dinner party with any three living people in the world, whom would you invite?
President Obama, Renee Fleming and Eric Whitacre.
What's the best advice you've ever been given?
Take one day at a time.
What's your best piece of advice?
Happiness is a journey, not a destination.
What was your first job, and how much did you make an hour?
My first teaching job was in the DeLand-Weldon school district, and I made $12,000 a year.
What was a pivotal decision in your career, and how did you arrive at that decision?
My professional career was based largely upon our family situation for a number of years: When our children were in the baby and toddler stages, I worked as a church musician with very flexible hours. When they were in elementary school, I taught elementary classroom music in Charleston, a job that required very little time outside of the school day. As they got older and more involved in school activities, I moved into my present job as a high school choir director at Mahomet-Seymour, which does require a lot of extra time after school and on the weekends, especially as we approach the Madrigal dinners. However, I never had second thoughts about adjusting my career to the needs of my family, and it was never really a 'decision.' It has all worked out just great.
Do you have a bad habit? What is it?
Nothing really terrible or annoying, I don't think, although my husband might disagree.
How do you handle a stressful situation?
I try to remind myself that, 'This, too, shall pass.'