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Get to know Donna Janowski

Student combines love of teaching, passion for music in the classroom

ST. CHARLES - Donna Janowski, a 21-year-old music education major at Arizona State University, has played violin since she was a third-grader at Bell-Graham Elementary School in St. Charles. She is one of 23 students teaching in the ASU String Project, part of a nationwide program that addresses the shortage of string teachers in public schools and increases the number of children who play such instruments as the violin, viola, double bass and cello.

Through email, the 2010 St. Charles North High School graduate answered some questions about her experience and her desire to be a public school music teacher.

Why did you decide on the violin?

There was what we like to call an "instrument petting zoo" held at my school where you can try out all the different instruments. There were only string instruments at this petting zoo because band didn't start until fifth grade at my school. I honestly think I remember picking the violin because it was the smallest one and I was small!

Why do you want to be a public school music teacher?

I have known for a long time that I wanted to be a teacher. When I was younger, I would "play" teacher and use my two younger brothers as students in my classroom. I knew I wanted to be a music teacher specifically my senior year in high school. Mr. Wis (one of my teachers at North) asked me to be a teacher's assistant for the freshman orchestra and it was the best part of my day. Being a music teacher combines my love of teaching and passion for music. I can't think of a more rewarding career.
Why did you decide to go to ASU?

Mr. Wis had a meeting one night for students who were interested in majoring in music in college. At the meeting he gave out a list of top music schools in the nation. ASU was near the top of the list. When I looked into it, I liked a lot of things about the music program. The main reason why I came out to ASU is because of my violin teacher, Dr. Katherine McLin. She is an extraordinary performer and teacher and I am so thankful to be taking lessons from her.

What do you do with the ASU string project?

The string project offers private lessons so that students can be helped one-on-one and Saturday morning group classes. On Saturday, there are two beginning level classes, two advanced level classes, and a fiddle class. I teach private lessons through the string project and I teach the beginning level and fiddle classes on Saturdays.

How has it helped you prepare for your career?

It has helped me prepare because I've gotten to experience working with real students. In school, we practice teaching each other a lot of the time. While this is helpful, this doesn't really prepare people for elementary, middle, or high school aged students. I now know how to prepare lessons for different age groups and levels of students. I am also getting to develop my style of teaching and now I feel very comfortable in a room full of students.

Do you hope to teach in a particular state, city or district?

I don't have a certain area in mind of where I want to teach, I will just be happy to have a job
How often do you go back to St. Charles?

I usually come to St. Charles to visit my family in December and during the summer. I also try to make it back to North to visit the teachers and students!

My teachers from North, Mr. Wis, Mr. Stombres, and Mr. Wojciechowski, are all excellent teachers and I can't thank them enough for all the support they've given me.

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