New teaching method, new classroom tempo

July Top Notch Teacher

A Tomah area teacher is putting the old cliché ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks to shame.’

Kathy Wacker is an elementary school music teacher who splits her time between Lemonweir Elementary, Camps Douglas, and Oakdale. After 29 years of teaching, she introduced a new method into her classroom.

It’s called Orff Schulwerk and focuses learning like we all learned to speak.

“The music actually starts becoming a part of them instead of the music being around them, and sitting and reading out of a textbook,” says Mrs. Wacker.

The students hear and make the music by playing instruments, singing, dancing, and clapping, then learn to read and write it.

“It’s almost like it’s absorbed into them without them even realizing that they’re learning it,” says Wacker.

The school’s principal says it’s an incredible turnaround in student’s behavior.

“A lot of them were eager to participate or want to volunteer to play the instruments,” says Nicki Pope, principal at Lemonweir Elementary, “that definitely is a motivator.”


And the new style is reigniting Wacker’s passion for teaching.

“I’m not ready to retire, mentally I’m not ready, I love my job, I love coming to work everyday, and I love working with the kids'” says Wacker, ” Instead of thinking about ‘I’ve done this for 30 years, I’ve done this for 30 years, but now I’ve got a new burst of energy to go with it.'”

Because who would want to leave their dream job, watching 400 students hit the night note every single day.

“Every child is at this age is musical, we just have to bring it out of them,” says Wacker, “that’s one thing I really enjoy about this, is that I can help children feel successful.”

Over the summer Mrs. Wacker is going to school to earn her certification in Orff Schulwerk.