Choral classes are popular here at Elkin High School, but students quickly learn a chorus does much more than just sing a song. Most of that learning is due to the hard work of Tonya Smith, choral director, who has been teaching music for 20 years.
What is even more impressive is that at one time Smith taught both the choral and band program at Elkin High School. Although she often teaches more than 100 students a day, Smith still finds time to talk and care for her students.
Probably what has contributed most to the popularity of her classes is that she treats her students like people. She wants students to better themselves, and she realizes that students need something more than just a teacher. Smith commented that she hopes her students would “develop musical talents to the best of their abilities,” but she also wants students to be successful as people.
As a result, Smith chooses an inspirational quote each day and has students discuss its meaning. Then two students are randomly chosen to explain it to the class. She explained that it helps students build confidence in performing before others.
Although Smith cited “time management, staying organized, and losing her voice” as common obstacles in her work, she is still extremely proud of her students and their choral achievements. In order to remain competitive, she is open to trying new strategies. “We do an array of different things; we sing solfege which covers all the notes. We also sing short songs.”
Although Elkin High is a small school with only one chorus teacher, the quality of the chorus is strong. As Principal Joel Hoyle commented, “We have an excellent choral program here.”
Madison Lane, Leara Riddle, Lakan Edwards and Caroline Owings are members of the Elkin High School Honors English I class.