January 23, 2015

Catholic Schools Week Supplement

A child’s song captures essence of Catholic education for teacher

Kim Higdon’s smile reflects the joy she gets from working with her students to praise God through music. (Submitted photo)

Kim Higdon’s smile reflects the joy she gets from working with her students to praise God through music. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

As a music teacher at St. Barnabas School in Indianapolis, Kim Higdon believes that “one of the greatest joys in life is singing praises to God through hymns and liturgical music.” Higdon has also come to understand that her greatest rewards as a teacher often come unexpectedly.

“It is so important for me to connect with my students one on one,” she says. “My first year at St. Barnabas, I had a first grader named Helen who rarely spoke to anyone. When it was her turn, she would sing alone in the tiniest voice imaginable, with barely a whisper coming from her lips. She would sing along in class looking down at her lap with her lips barely moving.

“Helen remained quite shy until around third grade. One day when I asked for a volunteer to sing, I caught Helen looking at me eagerly. Even though she hadn’t raised her hand, I asked her if she would like to give it a try. She nodded and stood up and faced her class.

“As I began to play my guitar softly, out came this sweet, pitch-perfect, gentle voice singing, “When I feel afraid, think I’ve lost my way, still You’re there, right beside me.’ The class exploded into applause as Helen smiled shyly and took her seat. In subsequent years, Helen volunteered to sing psalm verses at Mass, sang a duet in her eighth grade Christmas program, and performed a major solo in the Spring Musical.

“Rewards are there every day.” †

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