Sabadosa: Music teacher retires on a high note
By Regina Sabadosa Citizen Journalistemail@example.com May 31, 2012 1:10PM
Updated: July 6, 2012 8:45AM
Carol Ross’ retirement from Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123 became official this weekend.
As an advocate for the fine arts for 38 years, Ross has left her mark on the hearts and minds of both the children and the adults in our community. Ross’ family, friends and colleagues joined to celebrate her long and stellar teaching career at a party in her honor at 115 Bourbon Street in Merrionette Park on Friday.
Ross began teaching in 1974 at Hometown School. Through the years, her career took her into other District 123 schools including Gaddis, McGugan Junior High, Hannum, Covington, and Kolmar schools. In addition to a degree in music, Ross was certified to teach literacy support for kindergarten students at the former Brandt school, where she developed a music curriculum for preschoolers.
Ross grew up on Chicago’s South Side where she attended Visitation grammar school and Little Flower High School. After graduating from Quincy University, she did graduate work at VanderCook School of Music and then earned her master’s degree in education from St. Xavier University.
Ross said she and her mother would sing around the house every day. They often went to musicals. What sealed the deal for her wanting a career in music was hearing Mary Martin sing in “The Sound of Music.”
“That was it for me,” Ross said. “I was hooked. Every time I hear that song, I still go back to that moment.”
Today, Ross shares her beautiful voice with the congregation at Pilgrim Faith Church in Oak Lawn.
Through the years, Ross developed and led numerous school musical productions that even included holiday shows at retirement homes and at Navy Pier. She said her favorite memory of students always will be “the joyful and proud looks on their faces whenever we performed.”
Jody Keeney, recently retired art teacher, said, “I met Carol on my first day of student teaching at Hometown School in 1976. She seemed to be moving in fast-forward mode, and to my certain knowledge she has not slowed down since.”
“Every day she taught, Carol brought her ‘A’ game,” Keeney said. “I think, in her case, ‘A’ stands for amazing.”
Kolmar colleague Mary Fagan said, “Carol always performed along with her students. She knew that singing and dancing with the children alleviated their stage fright, allowing them to strive for excellence and perform at a level beyond their wildest dreams.”
Hometown kindergarten teacher Sharon Sheehan recalled her days with Ross at Kolmar. “What I’ve always appreciated most about Carol is the way she used music as a vehicle to teach other subjects, especially literacy. She always took the time to find out what we were teaching and she made sure to include activities in her music classes to reinforce this learning.”
Ross has admired many fellow teachers but said she is most grateful to Charles Hayes, who was her first boss and, at that time, principal of Hometown School.
“I would not have evolved into the teacher I became if not for his inspiration, guidance and, most of all, his friendship,” Ross said. “I learned from him not only to be a child’s teacher but also to be their advocate.”
Connor Page, a former student, said, “Mrs. Ross basically started my whole music career. Because of her I took an interest in musical instruments and I learned how to play the guitar.”
Jamie Friend, reading academic support specialist at Hometown School and a former student, said, “I still remember Mrs. Ross directing our school musical ‘Save the Planet, Save the Earth’ at Kolmar School in 1994. She was such an engaging teacher and that enthusiasm was contagious for her students.”
Ross said she is looking forward to “taking off one year to do some house remodeling, traveling and enjoying my newfound freedom with my husband Wally.
“I also look forward to watching our daughter Sara complete her final year of law school and pass the bar exam,” she said.
Happy trails, Carol. May your days always be alive with the sound of music no matter where you go.
Regina “Reggie” Sabadosa is a citizen journalist from Oak Lawn and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.