Student Nomination Story

I used to hate music, and music used to hate me. I felt like this sentiment had been accurate, and I never needed to encounter this foreign language ever again. You see, I attempted to get involved in music throughout my life. I was in choir in elementary, middle, and even freshman year high school. Yet, I never enjoyed participating or winning an award. It felt like a burden, but I felt like an outcast if I didn't do it. After thinking it over for some time, I decided I had had enough. Music just wasn't for me. Later, senior year presented me with the opportunity to take AP Music Theory. I thought to myself, "Great... just what I need." I knew I didn't have what it took to take on a behemoth like Theory when I've never even picked up an instrument. Since it was an AP course, I figured I might as well seize the opportunity. Then I recognized the name of the instructor. She was our school's current choir teacher, and I heard nothing but praise for her teaching methods. It was her who changed my perspective on music. Who realized my potential, and I now know I'm more capable of understanding this complex subject than I had thought I was. Dr. Sadlier did something truly incredible. She's a talented pianist, music school graduate, and holds a Ph.D. in Piano. All of her accomplishments make her overqualified to teach high school students, yet she did it anyway. I suspect her drive to educate the next generation of great minds encouraged her to teach. With all her awards and recognitions, she decided to pass on her wealth of knowledge. Imagine that. The first day I went into class (which was virtual this school year), I immediately felt like an individual rather than another student on a roster. Our AP Music Theory class is small. Like five students-small. At the start of the school year, most of us knew little to nothing about musical intricacies. My goal is to pass the AP exam, but how on Earth did I expect someone to help me understand the content of an introductory music college course? Well, it turns out, it's becoming possible. Dr. Sadlier took on the challenge head-on, and I soon began learning the basics. If there was anything I didn't understand, she was there to help clear things up. Homework after homework, quiz after quiz, test after test, she let me know exactly where I needed to improve, and we'd discuss it the very next class. Some teachers stop there, and that's alright. But she always goes the extra mile. She lets me know where I'm at individually without sugar-coating anything. I appreciate this critiquing method because it opens my eyes to exactly what I need to get done if I want to pass that AP exam. It's difficult for someone with my background, and she knows it. Rather than give me generic responses when I doubt my capabilities, she gives me honest answers. "If you want to pass, you'll need to be fluent in this area." "Get used to encountering these problems because they'll come up often." "Strategies are your best friend on this test." No other high school teacher has done more to ensure I succeed. If you asked me why I'm grateful to be taught by Dr. Sadlier in particular, it's the culmination of her passion and dedication to helping me navigate this unique language. I can't imagine taking this already challenging subject in an online environment during a global pandemic with anybody else. I don't tend to throw words around for just any reason, so believe me when I say she has given me a brand new outlook on this subject and the field of music itself. This class and her teaching methods have given me a new appreciation for music majors, composers, musicians, and instructors. I knew music was challenging, but I never anticipated it being this challenging. She's given me some words of encouragement for the future. "I hope you do something with the knowledge you're learning." I just might. Whatever I decide to pursue in college, I may end up pick up an instrument. Maybe give choir another go. Perhaps I never really hated music, and music never really hated me. I thank Dr. Sadlier for this realization.

Benjamin Martinez

To see more exceptional teacher nominees, visit The Honor Roll.