June 2020 Top Notch Teacher: Peter Engh

Engh, who's been teaching choir at Westby Area High School for 26 years, sings a song of his choice on Facebook or Facebook Live every night

WESTBY, Wis. (WKBT) – We tend to use music as a symbol of unity.

For local choir teacher Peter Engh, that couldn’t be more true right now. But he says his job is very challenging for him because of the pandemic. So he’s using his own creativity to bring the community together.

“You know I knew this was kinda go a long way,” Engh said. “Gonna happen for many days.”

But if there is one thing that unites us, it’s music.

“It’s a wonderful thing,” Engh said.

As the choral director for Westby Area High School, music is what Engh uses as a teaching platform for his students.

“People that aren’t in choir or band probably don’t know what that is,” Engh said. “I get goosebumps. I get tears when the choir sings really well.”

The high school concert choir was going to head to a large festival in April, but the pandemic took away their opportunity.

“Well. this is the time of year where it kind of hurts, because this is the time of year where your choir, especially your high school concert choir, would be at their best,” Engh said. “Not just challenging, it’s frustrating part of this job, because I don’t get to see my kids.”

So, Engh is applying his own talent as a tool of inspiration.

“I do Facebook Lives on Friday nights, but I do one every night, so.”

“Story of My Life,” “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “Happy Together,” and “Hallelujah” are just some of the tunes he sings.

“If it keeps me going, and it keeps people going through music, why not?,” Engh said. “And obviously, I’m not gonna quit now. And people are wondering if I’m running out of material. But no, not at all.”

Engh has sung 77 songs for his Facebook or Facebook Lives.

He also directed the State Future Farmers of America Choir for 21 years.

Engh says he’s been teaching students at Westby Area High School for 26 years. This is his 30th year being a choir director.

Engh is just the second choir director with the high school in the last 60 years. Ron Bjerke was choir director from 1960-1994.