by Kate Diuguid ’22
Jonathan Dunn was an invaluable asset to the music department, beloved by students, staff, and parents alike. But, as he spreads his wings with a promotion to Assistant Secondary Administrator, the Sherwood administration along with music teachers Michael Maddox and Alex Silverbook were tasked with filling Dunn’s shoes. They wanted a person who could take on a lot of different roles; “someone who would be a good fit for the Sherwood music team, as we work very closely together on Rock ‘n’ Roll, concerts, festivals, and everything else,” explained Maddox.
The man they picked is Paul Sharp, an experienced high school choir and music teacher with a degree in Music Education from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. This semester, he is teaching Show Choir, Jazz Choir, Music Tech, and Piano. He loves teaching music for two reasons, the music itself and the connection he makes with students. “As a music teacher, we have the ability to have students for their entire high school careers,” said Sharp. “During that time, you really get to know them and they get to know you, as well. I love hearing about what’s going on in my students’ lives, as well as being someone they can turn to when they need help or need someone to talk to.”
However, in the age of Covid-19, connections with students are hard to create, especially to a teacher just starting off. Sharp said he is trying to overcome this “by spending a lot of time getting to talk with all of my students one on one to try and get to know them better.” Not only does Sharp need to make connections with students amidst a pandemic and virtual learning, but with the other teachers in his department as well. “The three of us discuss classes and lessons and everything else over Zoom and over text message,” said Maddox. “I don’t think Mr. Sharp and I have actually met in person yet! The three of us are in a group text that’s used constantly, so it’s *almost* like we’re sharing an office in the music wing.”
Everyone has had to adjust the way they learn/teach due to the coronavirus pandemic, but for teachers of physical specializations, like the arts, have had to adapt a bit differently than others. Many music classes can still make music together if they already have the right materials. “The big difference comes in how we receive those products. Things move slower with online learning because you can’t get the instant feedback you need to hear if something is correct. So you have to listen to student-submitted recordings to make sure they know the material,” explained Sharp.
Like all of the teachers and students, Sharp and his colleagues in the music department are making it work until things return closer to normal. “We’re super excited to have Mr. Sharp on the team, and are looking forward to the day when we get back to the E hall to make some music in person,” Maddox said.