MUSCATINE, Iowa–Few things spread joy quite like a good song or a good music teacher. For eight weeks this winter, Madison Elementary students experienced this joy while working with music student teacher Cole Flack, a Blue Grass native who will graduate from the University of Northern Iowa this spring.
For Flack, his love of music and of sharing it with others came from his own music teacher. “My elementary school music teacher, Mr. Bermeier loved working with kids,” he remembered. “It just clicked with me, and I kept doing it ever since.”
In the classes he student taught, Flack did his best to share his enthusiasm for music with his students. From creating themed rhythm games for kindergartners, to planning a symphony day for fourth graders, to helping fifth and sixth grade choir students find music that mattered to them, Flack worked hard to connect with his students. Though teaching and bonding with so many students held its challenges, Flack found that the excitement his students showed for music each and every day made it all worth it. “They are so energetic, especially during these COVID times,” he beamed.
Other faculty and staff members at Madison who worked with Flack found his own personality equally inspiring. “The energy that comes out of his classes is contagious!” shared counselor Sheila Kinyon-Johnson. “He has affected the whole climate of the school.”
In particular, Kinyon-Johnson valued the opportunity to have a positive male role model in the building. “It’s awesome to have a guy in the building who can show boys a man enjoying his job,” she explained.
Throughout the month of February, Madison celebrated kindness month, completing different activities and dress up days to promote a positive school culture. When Kinyon-Johnson realized Flack’s last day at Madison coincided with the last day of kindness month, she knew she wanted to do something special to honor him. As she put it, “for our last day, why not honor someone who has done so much for our students and staff?”
To pay tribute to his impeccable sense of style, students had a fancy clothing dress up day Feb. 26. Teachers and staff throughout the school also wore buttons with Flack’s photo on them as a way to wish him well.
As the final step towards his music education degree, Flack will complete a second student teaching placement at Muscatine High School. Though quite different than his work at Madison, he looks forward to the chance to work with older students, teach more advanced coursework, and get a better feel for which age group he enjoys working with most. Looking ahead to working with secondary students, Flack said, “it’s a different type of relationship, being able to be a professional but still building relationships and building a safe space in the choir room.”
Flack’s second placement will also last eight weeks. During that time, his warmth and enjoyment of teaching will surely bring kindness and encouragement to Muscatine High School students and teachers just as it did at Madison.