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Letter to the Editor: Cutting PR Programs Could Mean Losing a Legacy

Letter writer Brian Spence credits Pine-Richland Music Department for making him the teacher and person he is today. He is a 1998 Pine-Richland High School graduate.

My name is Brian Spence and I am a member of the Pine-Richland class of 1998. I am currently wrapping up my 8th year teaching music in the Northwestern School District based in Albion, PA.  I would not be the teacher or person I am today without the Pine-Richland Music Department.

I honestly feel that I was born to teach music. I love my job with a fierce passion and could not be happier at Northwestern. The only district in the entire country that I would even consider leaving my position for is Pine-Richland, my alma mater. 

A few years ago, I emailed Dave Supinsky to thank him for all the time, patience, and effort he put into my music career.  He had a profound influence on me as a musician, as did all of my P-R music teachers, and I think of him frequently throughout my academic year. 

Being on the other side of the desk these days I get to see just how hard teaching music really is and I wanted Mr. Supinsky to know that I appreciated him many years after I was out of his classroom. I found out later, through other sources, that he had shared my email with the entire department and that it had really made his day.

A few weeks ago, I received a phone call from a former student of my own. This student graduated in 2010 and is now going to college in New York at Fredonia.

She called me to share some great news. She had just passed an audition and will be touring with the band 10,000 Maniacs this summer on back-up vocals and acoustic guitar. This student told me she began playing guitar because of me through my middle school music class. She thanked me for all the help that I gave her through high school concert band and my extracurricular guitar club. 

The phone call felt amazing and really validated the last 8 years of blood, sweat and tears I’ve poured into my job. I hope that my email to Mr. Supinsky gave him a similar feeling of gratification. This is just one example of the legacy that the Pine-Richland Music Department has created and there is honestly no way of knowing where, when or even if it will end.

When I was in high school, I was a mediocre student. There were many days when I would’ve skipped school altogether had it not been for the music and art classes that gave me so much. 

Music gave me an identity. I still remember songs that Miss Linz taught me in elementary school. I teach my middle school students dance steps that Mrs. Drop taught me twenty years ago.

Please don’t cut these programs. If you do, the effect will spread so much farther than your own district. You will be losing more than a program; you will be losing a legacy.

Brian Spence

Music teacher in Northwestern School District

Pine-Richland High School Class of 1998

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