Spalding High names Huesgen teacher of the year

January 31, 1995|By Shirley Leung | Shirley Leung,Sun Staff Writer

Forgive Stephanie Huesgen if she sounds a tad maternal about the Archbishop Spalding High School music department.

In eight years she has nurtured the department from a 15-member band to one that boasts a choral program, a guitar group, a music theory class and an award-winning 96-member concert and symphonic band.

"It's my baby," said Mrs. Huesgen, 34. "I could not do it without these kids. I'm proud that they and my hard work have developed this from next to nothing in a relatively short time."

This month, the Catholic school in Severn recognized Mrs. Huesgen's efforts by naming her teacher of the year.

Teachers, students and parents submitted nominations in October to a committee, which made the selection. In addition to her $250 award, Mrs. Huesgen will compete with 22 other high school teachers in the Baltimore Archdiocese for the Archbishop's Award for Teaching Excellence. The honor will be announced April 27.

After earning a bachelor's degree in music education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, she taught junior high school band in Reading, Pa.

She and her husband, Timothy, moved to Severn, and she was hired as the Spalding band director in 1987.

Mrs. Huesgen came to the school determined to make music a permanent part of her students' lives.

She recruited instrumentalists from the elementary schools and clubs. She set up a $500 music scholarship for incoming freshman, renewable for four years. She also started a music honor society for juniors and seniors who showed leadership in the band and kept a 3.0 grade-point average.

Her work has paid off, judging by the growth of the department and the awards won by the band. In May, it took first place among high school bands at the Music in the Parks Festival at Hershey Park in Pennsylvania. In other competitions, the band has earned top ratings.

A key to her success has been how she interacts with students, who describe her as a friend, a counselor, a second mom.

"It's not like she acts like a kid, but she can relate to us," said Monique Vieras, 17, a senior flutist.

"She'll do anything for us," said Paul Menges, 17, the band president. "She'll follow you to class to make sure you go. She'll tell your coach you're injured even if you don't want to tell him."

Senior horn player Josh Hartman said, "She's cool for an old person."

Spalding Principal Barbara H. Schwitzer says the kind of relationship Mrs. Huesgen has with students is not easy to cultivate.

"It's quite difficult for young teachers to walk the fine line between being a friend and a disciplinarian," said Mrs. Schwitzer.

Her colleagues and students say Mrs. Huesgen's dedication is remarkable.

In addition to teaching and rearing her son Christopher, 5, and daughter Alexis, 3, she finds time to attend school retreats and serve as accompanist for school musicals. Three days after giving birth to Alexis, Mrs. Huesgen insisted on returning to conduct the spring concert.

"I think that is the ultimate dedication," said Mrs. Schwitzer. "If I had asked her to do that, I would have been charged with unfair labor practices."

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