Teachers leave on a high note

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WHITINGHAM — Two music teachers, who have worked as a team for 23 years, are retiring at the end of this school year.

Karen Horton and Sue Maddern both started teaching in the Deerfield Valley when Whitingham still had a k-12 school, in 1994 and 1996 respectively. Now, they work in the consolidated Wilmington and Whitingham school system known as Twin Valley.

After teaching for a total of 38 years, Maddern said she decided "it was time" to retire.

"I love my job," she told the Reformer. "I love the kids. But yeah, it was time. It was time for someone to come in and have as much fun and feel as much success and support we've been given."

Horton said she had been considering retirement. With more free time, she hopes to play her instrument, the French horn, more often.

Maddern will "definitely" stay involved in music. She said there is no opening for an alto at the Chamber Singers of Keene, a New Hampshire-based choral group, but a singer indicated she will be kept in mind.

"It's still a challenge, which is really what I'm looking for rather than continuing being the teacher and having all the answers," said Maddern.



A happy history


Horton spoke highly of student jazz bands she helped assemble over the years. Maddern was proud of the a capella groups and tea parties with recitals for singers.

Maddern called sending students to Vermont All State Music Festival "another highlight" of their careers. Horton said the annual event also allowed the teachers to work with other music educators from the state.

Horton had fun when she was able to bring her students on stage with the Windham Orchestra of which she is a member. Having students play in the community, she said, "has always been important for me."

"Likewise," said Maddern.

Both teachers enjoyed school concerts where the band and chorus would perform together on the stage.

One year, Horton taught at Twin Valley Elementary School for the first half of the year while Maddern taught at Twin Valley Middle/High School. Then they switched spots in January.

"That was the craziest," said Horton.

Maddern called it challenging, as she had not taught instrumental music in about 30 years. But she also found it fun.

Asked what they will miss the most, Maddern said, "The laughs. The learning curve."

For Horton, "It's when you're working with kids and then it's that moment where they show that they've arrived at that point where they're going to have a passion for it, that they'll stick with it for the rest of their lives."

Previously, Horton taught in Connecticut and Maddern taught in Waterbury and Worcester, Mass.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.

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