December Top Notch Teacher

LA CROSSE, Wis. -- Everyone has their favorite part about music, whether it's listening, singing or playing an instrument.

In Deb Michaels' music class at Hintgen Elementary in La Crosse, there's always a place for her students in song.

Michaels' heart beats to the rhythm of music.

"I'm from a family of musicians, so I just decided if I wanted to teach something, I'm going to teach something that I really love," Michaels says."

But that doesn't mean some of the notes can't change every now and then.

"Whenever kids do something that's unexpected, like when they have musical input about something, or when they want to make something their own, they just take ownership of the music like that and they do a lot of things that just amaze me. They're intuitive."

This self proclaimed "Queen of the Music Room" says music connects with students in a special way.

"It just gets that human component, like a computer can spit out a math formula. or you can read a book without that human component of emotion, but in here we get the best of both worlds," Michaels says.


Hintgen Principle Mike White says Michaels teaches to the beat of her own melody. Her unique personality, enthusiasm and passion for teaching music is what keeps kids coming back for more.

"Students enjoy coming to her class," White says. "They like the participation that they do and they like the movement. They like using the instruments and the singing and the dancing and all those things that make it exciting to come to music everyday."

"She really does work very hard at what she does," White says. "She really puts everything out there. She's always thinking about what's best for the children and what she can do to improve her own program, and she's really more critical of herself than anyone would ever be in terms of trying to make improvements and being the best teacher she can."

And she teaches student to play only the best notes. So they can find the rhythms and beats to their own melody.

"I want them to know that no matter what their comfort level is, or their skill level or even their interest, there's always a place for them in music for them," Michaels says.

Michaels has taught at Hintgen for seven-years. In that time, she also started the kindergarten music concert program.

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