Wegsheid Reflects on Experience


Ben Achammer, Staff Writer

“It was one of my choices,” orchestra director Ms. Wegsheid said when she retold the story of how she ended up learning the violin. “I was going to choose violin, flute, or french horn, and my mom brought home the violin and said, ‘Would you like to play the violin?’ and guess what? That was the beginning of the violin.” After the violin, Ms. Wegsheid would go on to learn the viola in high school, and the bass and cello in college. From there, she would go on to teach in District 200 for over thirty years. A path paved by music, Ms. Wegsheid has “never [had] a dull moment” teaching music to the next generation.

Ms. Wegsheid currently holds the position as the conductor for both the Wheaton Warrenville South and Edison Middle School orchestras, teaching seven grade levels in all. Ms. Wegsheid was asked to go straight from the middle school to the high school, yet she chose to teach both. One of her reasons for staying was her character. She stated that, “You definitely have to be a certain personality to teach middle school, and I think I have that weirdness about me.” Another unique element that middle school provides is the variety: “Everyday you go there, there’s something different. [Its] never the same.” Furthermore, Ms. Wegsheid likes the aspect of seeing her students grow. When orchestra students first enter middle school, most of them barely know their strings. When they leave middle school, however, they are actually on their way to becoming true musicians. Ms. Wegsheid likes to use a blooming tree analogy in that “they’re all just buds as they are leaving middle school, and then once they get to the high school, the tree becomes full bloom … If I just do the middle school, you don’t see the end result.”

In 2019, Ms. Wegsheid took the orchestra and choir on a journey to Spain where they received standing ovations at every concert they performed on their tour. Fifteen years prior to the trip, Ms. Wegsheid had gone to Spain and toured many of its cathedrals. She said, “My dream was to bring an orchestra and play in one of the cathedrals …. I got to play in three!”

In education, a special bond often forms between the teacher and the students. For Ms. Wegsheid, this means, “I get very attached to my students. My students are not just my students, my students are part of me- they’re extended family.” Indeed, she once expressed that teaching Orchestra is like having a really big family of 240 kids. She also emphasised how her students are more than just their instruments: “Not all of my students are phenomenal musicians, they’re phenomenal people.” Perhaps the aspect which most resembles a family is how they help each other through things: “Kids have helped me through a lot of things, and I’ve been able to help kids through a lot of things”

Ms. Wegscheid’s many years of teaching have not gone without an impact, and it is very likely that her teaching, and her influence, will impact her students over the course of their entire lives, just like how that one decision made by her mom impacted her own.