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Students may not be able to see Amanda Bellerud in person, but the Salt Fork

North Elementary School music teacher and Salt Fork High School chorus director still brings music to her students.

At the elementary level, she gives them tools they can use to make or accompany music at home, including paper plates. For her chorus students, she makes sure to pick music they’ll enjoy as they practice at home.

“She helps kids connect and love music,” Bellerud said. “She is really passionate about her content, and that shows in her student conferences each year.”

I find my work important because ... I believe music has an important place in our schools. Music is the subject that ties everything together. Music has elements of math in rhythm and science in pitch. Music is history as a reflection of cultures and societies. Music is physical education through movement and dance. Music is an expression of ourselves as human beings. It shares our stories, struggles, joys and love. Music is everywhere, and it is my job to help students learn how to make it, experience it, appreciate it and incorporate it into their everyday life.

I became a teacher because ... As a teenager, I recognized that I had a love for music and working with kids of all ages. I helped out my band teacher in high school by giving clarinet lessons. I led the music for the Sunday school classes at church, and I enjoyed working with the kids. Becoming a music teacher combined together all the things that I enjoyed, and what better way to spend your life?

My favorite/most unique lesson that I teach is ... I have the unique position of teaching the same students multiple years in a row. I get to develop a different kind of relationship with them because I get to see them year after year. I love to watch them grow and develop into young adults. I love that some of my seniors in high school were also my kindergartners many years ago. I love working with my high school chorus students. I think music helps open them up, and they share their lives with you. I have taught long enough now that I am getting to teach children of former students!

My most fulfilling time on the job was ... I think it is the collective small moments that mean the most. It’s the moment when they give you a hug and say that they are glad to see you or that they missed you. It’s the moment that they say they enjoyed a song or activity, or they want to know more about a composer we are studying. It’s the excitement for our yearly field trip to the Danville Symphony Orchestra’s Children’s Concert. It’s the moments that they want to share a little song that they wrote themselves or a rhythm pattern that they created. It’s a fulfilling moment when a student accomplished something that he/she didn’t think was possible. It’s the moment when your seniors in chorus want to sing “Baby Bumblebee” because they remember singing it in kindergarten! I have received some beautifully written “Thank You” cards from high school seniors that I keep in my desk for those tough moments of the day. It’s the moments when graduated students come back just to say hi and catch up with you. Those are the moments that I collect and reflect upon when I wonder why I do this.

Something else I’m passionate about is ... I am passionate about my family. I have a wonderful husband, Ben, and three beautiful boys, Miles (6 years old), and Jordan and Ryan (3-year-old twins). I love to get to spend time with them. I want my boys to grow up feeling loved and wanted. I love building lifelong memories with them. No one makes me laugh more than Ben and our boys.

My favorite teacher and subject to study in school was ... One of my favorite teachers was Mrs. Stewart, who taught English and literature at Wayne City High School. She was a tough teacher, but she taught me writing skills that helped sail me through college. I also love to read, so I enjoyed a class that allowed me to read.

I also loved Mrs. Ozee who was one of my early music teachers and she played piano at the church I attended. Her fingers soared across the keys! I loved to hear her play. She was so kind and always had a smile on her face. She expected you to work and encouraged you at every lesson. She always seemed happy to see you and that made a very shy kid like myself feel very valued.

I engage students during this strange time by ... I try to keep an upbeat attitude and a smile on my face, whether I’m in the classroom or making teaching videos for my elementary students or on a Google Meet with my high school students.For the elementary lessons, I have tried to include activities for them to do at home or fun videos to watch. Recently we have enjoyed using paper plates for rhythm activities to accompany some of our songs! For the high school chorus, I have tried to choose music that they will enjoy and give them the tools to practice at home.

If I weren’t a teacher, I would ... love to be a stay-at-home mom who gave piano and voice lessons on the side and continue my job as a choir director at Catlin United Methodist Church.

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