December 2015 Top Notch Teacher: Elissa Kinstler

Kinstler is the band director at Bangor Middle School and Bangor High School

School is a busy time for students, whether it be studying for tests or holding down a part-time job, but there is one extracurricular activity that seems to be growing thanks to one teacher in Bangor.

Elissa Kinstler has been the Bangor Middle and High School Band Director for eight years and in that time, she said she has seen the classroom grow.

“When I first started here it was about 60-70 students and I am over 100 now,” said Kinstler.

Kinstler said it’s because of the opportunities provided to students.

“Four years ago I started trips to other places. We went to Chicago, two years ago we went to Nashville and this following year we are going to New York,” said Kinstler.

She said it gives them a chance to learn about other cultures.

“It opens their eyes to new, different things and they feel like they are involved in a group more because they get to go out and show their experiences with the community and the culture we have around,” said Kinstler.

Kinstler said she tries to expand the students’ horizons in Bangor as well.

“We are doing a whole unit this semester about memorials and a lot of music was written for people or for events,” said Kinstler. “We took a trip down to the Bangor Historical Society to check out memorials of Bangor and how they can incorporate that in their playing and understanding of what’s going on around them and why it matters.”

But if you ask one of her students, she said the growth in the number of students in band is because Kinstler is a wonderful teacher.

“If you are going to start band Mrs. Kinstler is the person to start with because she is really nice and if you have any questions she will always help you,” said Madeline Janisch, a sixth grader at Bangor Middle School.

Kinstler said it’s not a pitch-perfect job.

“The hardest thing is I am doing 13 different things at the same time. Every instrument has different fingerings, notes and percussion has a million different things going on,” said Kinstler.

But she said she wouldn’t change a note because it’s the students that make it all worth it.

“Just the relationships I have with them is priceless,” said Kinstler. “I get a chance to be more one on one with the students and really work on that aspect of this is how you perform, this is how you carry yourself and this is the confidence you need to do it. I think that is extremely important and that you don’t get from other classes.”

If you’ve never met Kinstler in person, there’s a good chance you have seen her perform. In the summer she plays with the La Crosse Concert Band and she is a lead steel pan player for the Coulee Region Steel Band.