Monday was a night filled with tears; it was a time to make memories as Karen Reynolds directed her last Pops Concert at Tri County.
Students performed a number of musical pieces, even breaking into choreographed dance at times, showcasing all of the talent at Tri County, and highlighting how Reynolds has shaped many lives in her 34 years of teaching.
Reynolds explained that she graduated from Tri County High School and obtained a bachelors degree. Shortly after graduating from college, she began teaching music at Fairbury Jr./Sr. High School.
“My first nine years were at Fairbury,” said Reynolds. “They were so welcoming and kind to a beginning teacher. I felt very welcomed there. It was difficult to leave, but I graduated from Tri County High School, so when this job opened up, it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up because I knew what a strong school district Tri County was.”
Teaching in a smaller school has given Reynolds many opportunities to connect with students throughout the years. Those students found inspiration in her teaching. A group of her former students surprised her Monday night at the end of the concert, coming together to sing “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” dedicating it to Reynolds. Here is a clip from that performance:
“When you can stay with these kids from kindergarten all the way through their senior year, watching them grow and mature is just an amazing feeling. Nothing makes me feel better than when I see former students continuing with their music out in the community. To have three of my students come back and sing at the end just touched my heart,” Reynolds said.
The annual Pops concert at Tri County has always been an important event to her, Reynolds explained, because it shows how much talent younger generations have.
“This has always been special because it’s all about the kids,” said Reynolds. “They have a chance to show what they can do. All of those solo acts, those students spent time thinking of what songs they want to do and prepare. Ultimately, they’re doing this themselves, and every year I’m always amazed at what a wonderful job they all do. I love showcasing their talents to the community. I’m very proud of all of them.”
Even thought she is retiring, Reynolds will still attend concerts and help students continue to grow. She also hopes to travel to see other family members.
“I’ve had some health issues, so I thought that since I could retire, I’d take the opportunity. I still plan on substituting; I don’t think I can stay away from these kids for that long. I would miss them too much. I hope to be able to travel a little bit too. My son lives in New York, and it would be nice to go visit him from time to time,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds is grateful for the opportunity to influence young people and to teach them about the joy of music.
“I just hope everyone knows how much the years here at Tri County have meant to me,” said Reynolds. “I’ve made so many wonderful friends and relationships with students and parents in the community. Tri County is a very special place, and I will miss the students and teachers and all of the relationships I’ve built here.”