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Music teachers get reprise at Lemont elementary schools

LEMONT – Three years after eliminating the music specialists because of budget constraints, Oakwood and River Valley schools each are adding a part-time music teacher for the upcoming school year.

Allyson Zeyen will teach the kindergarten to second grade classes at Oakwood, while Jenna Treanor will teach the third and fourth graders in River Valley.

Grades one to four will have two 25-minute music classes a week, while kindergarten will have one 25-minute class.

For the past three years, the classroom teachers were responsible for teaching music.

Oakwood Principal Cathy Slee said the teachers did a good job keeping music in the classroom, but they cannot be expected to bring the same level of expertise as a music specialist.

“[Students are] going to see music at a different level,” she said. “To have someone bring that music alive with the piano or the variety of instruments, it will bring that fine arts portion to a higher level for the students.”

Treanor, a Lemont resident, will be a familiar face for some of the students at River Valley. She volunteered to teach recorders to third graders last year and teaches music lessons in the community.

During the summer, she also held a musical theater camp that ended with a community performance.

“I’m excited that music is being brought back and the children are going to be able to have the opportunity to learn the core curriculum and have the music enhance it,” she said.

Zeyen, who is a spring graduate of DePaul University, said she chose Oakwood over other job opportunities.

“I think it is a great school,” she said. “I think there will be a great opportunity to build a great music program.”

River Valley Principal Debby Lynch said the parents were supportive of the teachers’ efforts to instruct music but preferred a music teacher.

“There was a large portion of the community that felt strongly about a music education or band education for the kids,” she said. “The community was clear that a specialist teaching was important.”

Lynch said the classroom teachers are excited to have the music teachers back.

River Valley third grade teacher Cathy Cortez said the teachers did the best they could to add music to their curricula, but it was a challenge.

“It took a lot of time, and I don’t think everybody has the expertise to be able to do that,” she said.

Cortez said teachers will have larger amounts of time to collaborate as a result of the scheduled music classes, but she is most excited for how having a music teacher will benefit the students.

One thing parents can expect to see is more music programs.

Zeyen said she and Treanor already are planning a Veterans Day program, and she hopes to have a concert in the spring.

Treanor sees value in having the children perform in concerts.

“They get such a sense of pride in themselves when they are able to get up and show their talents,” she said.

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