Farewell Message From Teresa Dunn

As we bid adieu to a forever mentor, teacher, music and arts lover, inspiration, and most importantly a friend, we look on the many memories created by the one and only Teresa Dunn. During her 11 years as the Music Teacher at HGS, Teresa touched so many lives (students and teachers) and really brought a sense of life to Tilton School. She made sure to be included in whatever she could. She gave our kids the opportunity to shine through music, whether it was concerts every year, public events, song recordings, recognition of the many talents that walked through the school, or great trips to NYC. If you know Teresa, you know that she is passionate beyond belief for her students, truly wanting them to succeed in their dreams. Teresa, you've been an amazing addition to our Tilton School Staff for many years, and although you will be gone, you will never be forgotten! You will forever live as a #TiltonTrailblazer.

Below, you can read some of Teresa's history, and farewell message to our students and staff at The House.

"Eleven years ago this month, on July 12, 2010, I walked through the doors of Tilton School as a newly hired music teacher, lesson plans in hand, and ready to teach students. Wow, was I in for a surprise learning that defined and planned music lessons did not apply if you did not know the needs and wants of the children we serve. I received a kitchen cart, one keyboard, and a boom box, and, as Carol Altimonte described in a letter to me, "we saw the top of your head as you rolled the cart down the hallways of Tilton and day after day the music became contagious."
As the days, weeks, and months passed, I learned the culture of the school and the philosophy of the agency. Shannon Perri was my mentor, and to whom I asked a thousand questions. Dave Williams was the Principal to whom I approached with "big" ideas. Zig Malowicki was my guidance for allowing me to dream big and making things become a reality while keeping my feet on the ground.  I learned from the administration, I learned from the teachers, but my "biggest" teachers were my students.
Eventually, the community's generosity and various agency fundraisers allowed for instruments to be purchased, and the music program started to blossom. One big problem accompanied this - space! The first question to be addressed was where we were placing the music teacher when she is not teaching on a cart - the resolution was a tiny office in a corner of the Margaret Weiss Activity Room.  The problem was not using the "office" with the various meetings that occurred daily in the MWAR. So, onto plan "B".. Dave Williams gave me a great office space {in what is now the music room} which was then the Tutoring Lab.
As time passed, push in classes were great for the students except for the noise factor! I received permission to start a choir, so I worked with the East side students on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the West side students on Mondays and Wednesdays in the MWAR. As I rehearsed with my students, I kept thinking, "a show, we have got to do a show." Two months later, we did a mini-concert in September in the Gym. From that point on, the "choir" was named The Shepherd Singers, and to date, hundreds of students have performed in 25 concerts on campus. Included in our concerts were some of the area's finest musicians who took pride in working and performing with our kids.  Our students gained so much from performing with live music, and it made each of their performances very special.
In addition to on-campus performances, our students became noticed within the community. We were invited to perform at several locations such as The Sitrin Home, The Veterans Outreach Center, The American Heart Association Gala, The New Hartford summer concert series, The City of Utica Tomato Pie Day, The City of Utica International day, The Rotary Club, Sunset Woods, Preswick Glen, The Boilermaker Drumline, The Ride for Missing Children Drumline, The Alex Kogut Memorial Race drumline, The Levitt AMP Utica Music Series, Broadway Utica performances, and the list goes on.
Our Drum program launched 9 nine years ago, and it was highly successful, with students lined up at the music room door waiting for a drum lesson. Thank you, Kelly Yacco, for your dedication, support, and passion in providing drum lessons to hundreds of students. The smiles on the kids' faces as they progressed week after week were absolutely what the music program is about- bringing a positive change to a child's life.
With each concert performance, I was flooded with emotion and pride as I watched my kids shine. That meant everything to me, and it always will.
The TLC room was starting to get a bit crowded by the various instruments donated to the music program, and what was supposed to be a tutoring room began to look like a music room! As years passed, the music education program and the after-school music program became refined and organized, with hundreds of students wanting to be part of the Shepherd Singers and The Shepherd Drummers. And then a day I will never forget... Dave Williams retired, and Shannon Perri became Principal. One day she said to me, "I have a surprise for you, how would you like a music room?"  Well, you could only imagine my reaction...I was elated that the TLC room was going to be the music room! This room, known as my second home, is where SO MANY students found themselves and expressed themselves through music over the past 11 years.
I want to thank the agency for supporting the best music and performance program in town. My last day in my second home is July 27 - and as I say this, I am dreading walking out of the doors of Tilton. This program and agency has become part of me; these kids have become a part of me. I remember every single student from 11 years ago.
My husband and I are moving to Queensbury near Lake George to live near our daughter and son-in-law. I am NOT retiring. I am looking for a job where I can teach kids similar to ours.  I don't want to say goodbye to you. I want to say I will return to visit, check out my second home, and be in a front-row seat for the next concert.
Goodbyes are not forever. Goodbyes are not the end. They simply mean I'll miss you until we meet again."