My Forever Mentor

Posted: April 7, 2015 in Uncategorized
Suellyn leading the band on my last day of high school

Suellyn leading the band on my last day of high school

In the summer of 1995, I got a phone call from someone with the high school band asking me why I chose not to be in band. I was leaving the middle school, where I had been in band all three years, and headed off to high school. Since the band director had taken another job, I didn’t want to be in band in high school because I didn’t know the new teacher. They talked me into coming in for an evening with a few others and play on the bass drums.

The new band director, Suellyn Stenger, was there along with a couple of guys who helped with the band. Since I was the tallest, I was on the largest of four bass drums. Jamie, Jennifer, Jared and I had a good time playing and getting to know each other. We then sat on the floor and listened to the music of the show (Beethoven songs) and looking at our parts. They had me hooked.

Little did I know that if I would have not been in band, I wouldn’t have one of the greatest people in my life.

Suellyn Stenger has been there for me many times in the past 20 years. (Did I just say that?) Why is she so great?

Suellyn marching with my high school band in McPherson's All School's Day Parade my senior year.

Suellyn marching with my high school band in McPherson’s All School’s Day Parade my senior year.

  • She encouraged me to step back into band and give it a chance when I was ready to give up.
  • She gave me rides home on evenings I didn’t have a ride.
  • She gave me a ride back to the high school after helping with the middle school students after my car broke down.
  • She paid for my lunch several times (even though I had money) when taking me back to the high school.
  • She was the person I turned to when my grandmother passed suddenly the summer before my junior year.

That is just a few reasons why she’s so great. Why is she my mentor?

When I went off to college as a music education major, she was excited for me. My freshman year of college when I went back to visit her, I called her Ms. Stenger. She looks at me at says, “I’m not your teacher, call me Suellyn.” Since then, when I try to say Ms. Stenger, she will not respond to me. She taught me the respect of being an adult.

Suellyn's school picture from this year.

Suellyn’s school picture from this year.

When Suellyn left my hometown, I kept in touch with her. I watched as she took a small town’s band program and made it amazing, the same she had done with my hometown band program. Then when she became a counselor, I laughed because she was always our counselor at my high school. She was the one the band students turned to.

Since I have graduated college and became a teacher, Suellyn has inspired me. When I’m having a down day, I can talk to her and she cheers me up. She continues to show me the bright side to teaching and why I go into my classroom each day.

Suellyn is who I talk to about my career decisions. She is the one who encourages me to do what I can do. She is just amazing!

Words cannot describe the love that I have for Suellyn Stenger. Each time I am near Hays, Kansas (how lucky is that high school?) I try to stop and have lunch with her. She is an inspiration.

Thank you, Suellyn, for all you have done for me and will continue to do.

  1. Kyle B. says:

    I wasn’t expecting to find this when I googled “Marching Band Parade McPherson”, but this made me smile 🙂


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