Halls alive with music at Howard and Ellis, thanks to new teacher’s efforts

Published 2:24 am Tuesday, September 21, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - The halls are alive with the sound of music at Howard and James Ellis Elementary schools.
It's thanks in part to Katie Way, the new music teacher, who has been working hard to build up the music programs at both schools.
Way divides her time between the two schools, teaching music to about 700 students in 24 classes from kindergarten up to sixth grade.
Way sees most classes about once a week, but some twice a week as they rotate every four days between her class and the other special classes; physical education, library, and spanish.
Way approaches each grade she teaches a little differently depending on how old the students are.
Kindergarten students learn how to find their singing voices and what a beat is and how to find it in a song. Students learn their first notes in first grade and then build on that as they progress through their music lessons.
Earlier this year, Way's classroom at Howard received new risers which can be configured to accommodate students sitting and standing, as well as form a stage if need be.
In the past, if the school needed risers, they would need to be transported from Niles High School.
In addition to the risers, Way has added 50 new hand drums to her rooms, as well as new shakers and rhythm instruments. Way recently asked the school Parent Teacher Organization for $10,000 for xylophones, which her classrooms do not have.
Before coming to Niles Community Schools, Way taught at Ridpath and Deer Meadow Elementary schools in Greencastle, Ind.
Way received her music education degree from the University of Indiana-Bloomington, where she got the opportunity to student teach on the other side of the world.
Way was part of the overseas teaching unit which students participated in for graduate credit at the university.
Way taught music in Moerewa, New Zealand, where she lived with a Maori tribe. The Maori are New Zealand's native people, predating white explorers to the country by about 700 years, Way said.
Way was one of six teachers at her school in Moerewa, where she taught only about 100 students.
Every morning at 10:15 a.m., the school would stop and the teachers would have morning tea, while the children were allowed to have a like snack.
Way said the culture of the Maori is very similar to that of Hawaiians, and it commonly believed that the Maori share a common origin with them.
English was spoken in the Maori school and in public, but the tribes people occasionally through in native words when speaking.
The Maori are a very musical people and the different tribes have choral competitions to see who is the best, Way said.
Way doesn't have a particular favorite type of music, rather she looks for quality music across every genre. "I look for music that can help me teach concepts to my students," she said.
Way lives in Mishawaka, Ind. with her dog Zhara, which is is Shitsu. In her free time she practices yoga and enjoys hiking.