Students and Leaders Present at the Wisconsin Chapter of the American String Teacher Association Virtual Expo

Students and Leaders Present at the Wisconsin Chapter of the American String Teacher Association Virtual Expo
Posted on 02/16/2021
This is the image for the news article titled Students and Leaders Present at the  Wisconsin Chapter of the American String Teacher Association Virtual ExpoOn Saturday, January 23, 2021, Wisconsin Chapter of the American String Teacher Association (WI-ASTA) held an all-day Virtual Expo for orchestra and string teachers across the state.  New this year was the virtual setting which allowed teachers from out of state to participate as well.  While attendees participated in sessions about music technique and teaching strategies, the expo also featured presentations on topics such as cultural diversity, Mindfulness, and social-emotional learning.

Saydes Rattan and Sophia Zheng
When Shining Strings violinists Saydes Rattan (Nathan Hale 10th grader) and Sophia Zheng (Nathan Hale 11th grader) presented “Asian Culture vs. American Culture: Growing up in Dual Cultures,” they shared their own experience of growing up in one culture at home and in one culture at school.  

“I had seen a similar presentation in a webinar this past summer and knew this was an important topic for our teachers to learn about,” said West Allis-West Milwaukee Music Lead, Mary Pat Michels.  “Who better to present than our students? They are the ‘true experts’ - they are living this experience daily.”  

“I was honored to be asked to share about my culture,” said Saydes Rattan. “I also got to know my friend Sophia Zheng better.  While we may seem to come from the same backgrounds, we are not the same generation to this country.  Being first and second generation respectively, our experiences are different.”  
“When Mrs. Michels asked me if I would like to do this presentation with Saydes, I was excited to work with her.  I really enjoyed researching the topic. I love helping others learn,”  explained Sophia Zheng.

Michels, who is also WI-ASTA President adds, “It is always exciting to help students prepare a presentation.  They worked hard, collaborated, and practiced.  A couple of weeks before Expo, our Superintendent, Dr. Lexmond visited us on Zoom --  the girls were so focused they didn’t even realize he was there!  As a teacher, it was heartwarming to see the joy on all three faces in that moment.”
Ryan Hammernik and Mary Pat Michels
The expo also featured Michels and Assistant Manager of School Services Ryan Hammernik. Together they presented “Social Emotional Learning and Mindfulness with Music,” a series of mini-lessons that tie music into social-emotional well-being.

“Having written mini-lessons in social-emotional learning and Mindfulness for all three intermediate schools over the past four years, it was natural to incorporate music into these lessons last March during Youth Music and Arts Month. These lessons became the life-blood for the orchestra students at Lane and FLW during our time at home last spring.  The students began to explore mindfulness and music and they incorporated it into their passion projects,” explained Michels.

“The practice of incorporating a music selection that is relevant to our students has continued into this school year and our lessons are written so that students can do them synchronously or asynchronously depending on their personal schedules" said Michels.  “If I don’t post the lessons on Wednesdays early enough, I get messages from my students asking where their mindfulness lesson is!  The students are so involved in the planning of these lessons and often submit music they think would be appropriate to pair with a mindfulness lesson.”

During the presentation, Michels and Hammernik shared student work (e.g.,reflections, projects, writings, etc.) that were produced in class. “Not only were we able to share the philosophy and meaning behind our work, we were able to showcase samples of student work,” said Hammernik.  “We are truly thankful to see our students give back to each other and the community using the lessons we have taught.  While we model mindfulness, caring and empathy to our students, we see them take it further and pay it forward -- that’s the ultimate reward,”  

“Our focus on wellness, mindfulness, self-care, equity, and diversity has been very intentional during this past year. I am proud that members of our District were able to share these important topics with fellow educators across the state and beyond,” said Superintendent, Marty Lexmond.

Saydes Rattan
Nathan Hale, 10th grade  

Sophia Zheng
Nathan Hale, 11th grade

Ryan Hammernik
WAWM District Administrator & PE Lead

Mary Pat Michels
WAWM Orchestra Director & Music Lead

Mary Pat Michels
WAWM Orchestra Director & Music Lead