FHN’s Lorraine Smith named MCDA 2016 Outstanding District Director for St. Louis Metro

Posted on 09/13/2016

It’s a beautiful sound to hear that you’ve been recognized for your efforts, but sometimes it’s even more beautiful to hear the sounds that earned your recognition. Lorraine Smith, Choir Director at Francis Howell North (FHN) High School, was named the Missouri Choral Directors Association (MCDA) 2016 Outstanding District Director for the entire St. Louis Metro area over the summer. Smith, however, perceives the award as recognition for her school and community’s support, rather than an individual achievement. To her, it’s an honor just to be able to do what she does – to help students learn more about the world, and themselves, through music.

“It’s a huge honor because we have some pretty amazing high school choir directors in the St. Louis Metro district,” Smith said. “The award is voted on by these same distinguished teachers, so that makes it even more meaningful. Many of them were in their positions when I first moved to Missouri and began teaching in FHSD, and I can remember them helping me out through those first few years in a new district and a new state. I don't think we would have the successful program we have here at North if it weren't for their help.”

lorraineAll that help from other teachers wouldn’t matter, though, if not for the support of FHN and its community. “I think it says that the whole FHN community cares about our program and the arts in general,” Smith said. “That collaborative mindset and effort toward student achievement is present from our introductory music programs to our top level performance groups. Our staff helps to foster musical development in all our students by attending concerts, providing praise and recognition to individual students in both public and private ways, and including our students by asking them to perform at various school activities and sporting events. They provide our students with opportunities to shine in big and small ways, and they are a huge part of why our students are so successful.”

There are multiple benefits to participating in music and choir, but one of the most sought-after skills in the workforce today is the ability to work with a team. “Being a part of choir teaches students essential life skills that they will use for the rest of their lives,” Smith said. “The students are constantly having to work together to create a product, problem-solve, and figure out how to handle challenging material, and frequently set goals and map out a plan to reach those goals.”

Those skills and experiences may be very important to a future employer, but what the student gets out of choir and music goes beyond skills and their marketability to a future employer. “I think that participating in music programs provides kids with an outlet for their creativity and passion,” Smith said, “and positively impacts our school's atmosphere by providing an environment that fosters creativity in any and all students who want to be a part of the program. We are very proud of the fact that our program is available to any

FHN student who wants to participate, regardless of ability or previous experience. We have a place for anyone who wants to join us.”

Bottom photo by Kristen Pike, FHN Photographer

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