Choose Joy!


Stephanie Trump

Choral Vice-President, Minnesota Music Educators Association

Vocal Music, Robbinsdale Armstrong HS, Plymouth, MN

“There are three good reasons to be a teacher - June, July, and August.”

At the end of each school year I am more excited about the summer than my students. These months of the year are easily my favorite. I love everything about summer! It is my time to relax and recharge, doing the things I love most. Without these weeks off, I would not have the stamina to do my job.

My greatest professional inspiration happens the first week of August each year by working with the All-State Choirs or attending ACDA-MN Summer Dialogue. The content and collegiality rekindles my passion for the work that I have the opportunity to do each year. It is the best professional development I can find.

I am excited to get back to creating music, engaging with my students, rekindling valued relationships, and reestablishing a routine. With that said, each school year is also full of stresses and difficulties that I would be remiss to not acknowledge. Chief among them is advocacy, working in a world in which music often sits at the outskirts of academic priority and requirements. One where many of us work in isolation, where we must fit our proverbial “round peg” into the “square hole” of the processes and expectations of others. These aspects of our responsibilities often pull our priorities away from teaching and learning, music and relationships, score and rehearsal preparation, and programmatic concerns. Often the details on which I spend so much time take my energy and focus away from teaching and inspiring music and musicians.

Throughout the day-to-day details, hectic schedules, and juggling acts, I choose joy! Joy is a decision, it is often a sacrifice. Choosing joy is about knowing who we are, what we believe, and how we can make an impact on others. Joy is not the same as happiness. Joy does not waiver day to day, moment to moment. It seldom changes. It is the way we think, believe, and engage. It is a habit, a mindset that is the foundation for a lifestyle.

Through the lens of joy, I believe that these professional (and sometimes personal) trials and frustrations have helped me to solidify my philosophy and purpose, rekindle my passion, and encourage my creativity. Choosing joy helps me to find the positive and see the potential in all circumstances. Joy allows my glass to remain half- full. Choosing joy helps me to see the forest despite the trees - to never lose sight of the reason that I chose this job. It helps me to inspire my singers, the way I was inspired.

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
-William A. Ward