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The Depth of A Visitation Teacher: Stella Schindler
Moira McLaughlin

 

While Visitation teachers love their students and are passionate about their material, they all have lives beyond these walls, and their interests range from beekeeping to parachuting to survival hiking to triathlons. For Stella Schindler who has taught at Visitation for 12 years, she makes time outside of work for music as a singer and songwriter in a band called Kentucky Avenue.

Today on the blog, we start a semi-occasional series highlighting the depth of our teachers, the love they have for life, the commitment they maintain for passions beyond the classroom and the way they bring who they are outside the classroom into the classroom in dynamic ways.

Stella says that music and teaching have a lot in common.

“Music and teaching compliment each other,” she says. “Both are about making connections with people and expressing yourself and the creative process is similar. I think of teaching as an art and of course music is too.”

Before Stella was an English teacher, she was a musician, playing in cover bands at Notre Dame and then writing her own tunes after that. She earned an undergraduate degree in art history, and then a graduate degree in Great Books from St. John’s College in Annapolis. Music was with her through it all. Whereas teaching came later.

“Music has been coming in and out of my life in varying degrees for years now,” Stella said. “Teaching kind of called me. My parents always wanted me to be a teacher and my mom thought I would be good at it, but I didn’t pursue it until after grad school, when a new light sent me in that direction.”

Stella’s father, a theologian and philosopher at Catholic University, always encouraged Stella to follow her interests rather than sticking to a strict career-centric path.

“I've told my students especially my seniors that when my dad was talking to me about what to major in in college, he said, ‘ I just want you to know you can study anything but with one condition, provided that it is not useful.'"

That stipulation allowed Stella to follow her own, unique, winding path that eventually brought her to Visitation.

She is happy her journey has brought her to her Honors Seniors and Honors Sophomore English Classes.

“A love of music and a love of literature, they both have something to do not just with my own life, but with life in general. To be able to study and read works that are relevant and meaningful and to share the delight they bring with other people is such a gift. You just give yourself over to it, that is a part of both teaching and music,” Stella said.  “You have to be present to your students and you have to be present to your audience.”

 

 

Stella will be playing with Kentucky Avenue at
Villain and Saint in Bethesda Nov. 25 at 9 p.m.;
The DC Holiday Market at 8th and F Streets NW, Nov. 27 from 5-7 p.m.
and Jammin’ Java in Vienna, Dec. 29 at 7 p.m.

 

 

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