Audrey Nowak, Bay Port High School orchestra director, was honored by the Howard-Suamico school board on Monday, Aug. 6, for her work in the program. She recently took 99 students to perform at Carnegie Hall in June. Ben Rodgers Photo
By Ben Rodgers
SUAMICO – The teacher that orchestrated a trip for her students to play at Carnegie Hall this summer was formally honored by the school board at the Monday, Aug. 6, meeting.
Audrey Nowak has been the Bay Port High School orchestra director since 2010. In June, she led 99 students to one of the most famous venues in the world.
“It challenged my thinking, it challenged my teaching, it challenged my repertoire selection, it challenged my nerve…,” Nowak said. “It challenged everything, but obviously, it’s more than worth it.”
The students participated in the Viennese Masters Orchestra Invitational, where they played a 27-minute long set.
“Howard-Suamico has an amazing team of administrators, school board, and everything that really makes these opportunities possible,” Nowak said. “It’s impossible to tell you all about the trip. It was more than I could ever imagine.”
Nowak and the students played their set before a packed audience at the Bay Port High School Performing Arts Center on June 18 as a send off.
The next day, on their way out of town, the students had a police and fire escort.
The teacher said her development as an educator started in the HSSD, and now with the support of administration, she said she feels more empowered than ever before.
“I felt your belief in me and that propelled me to work really hard,” Nowak said.
Nowak previously took Bay Port students on trips to the Chicago Symphony Center and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Though her next trip has yet to be formally approved by the board, she said she would like to take students to Vienna in 2020. Teresa Ford, board president, read from a resolution that praised Nowak for her “persistent dedication to student success,” and her “impressive standards of professionalism.”
“We are hugely grateful for you and your efforts,” Ford said.
In other news, the board decided to set communication and advocacy at the forefront of goals for the 2018-19 school year.
“We’re talking about what our work is and where we should direct our focus in the next year,” Ford said. “We can’t focus heavily on every single thing, so we need to narrow down what we will add to our regular work in terms of meeting time, and learning, and reporting to each other and that type of thing.”
Transparency was listed as a potential goal to focus on, but Mark Ashley, board member, said that might be a little far reaching.
“The community has told us, as you said, ‘This is the level of transparency we expect from you,’” Ashley said. “I think of it as something we need to have more woven in our work, instead of a single rock (to focus on).”
Superintendent Damian LaCroix said the board is transparent at every meeting.
“There’s nothing more transparent than a public meeting,” LaCroix said. “Everybody that wants to come and engage is more than welcome to come.”
Vanessa Moran, board member agreed to take on the communication goal and delve into ideas to create achievable goals and the requirements for meeting those goals.
The advocacy goal will be assigned at a later meeting.