Mary Wood, a music teacher from Sault Sainte Marie, and Sharon Green, the choral music teacher at Graveraet Middle School in Marquette, were the recipients of the 1994 U. P. Choral Leadership Award.
Mary Wood of Sault Ste. Marie started her career in the 1950's as an elementary school teacher writing musicals for her students. She has also been a high school choral teacher, an organist, soloist, accompanist, arranger, director, producer, choreographer and unfailing volunteer in Sault Ste. Marie and surrounding communities. With music she has enriched the lives of many Upper Peninsula residents, especially those in the Eastern Upper Peninsula.
In 1955 she directed and arranged a musical production for the Soo Locks Celebration and since then has continued to be similarly involved in numerous other regional pageants and celebrations. Most widely appreciated has been the Mary Wood Chorus. In 1962 Ms. Wood directed a small choir on WSOO Radio in a program honoring Rogers and Hammerstein. This group developed into the Mary Wood Chorus which performed up to three concerts per year, featuring classical and popular music. The chorus performed at numerous local, U.P. wide and statewide conventions and benefits.
In 1980 Ms. Wood collaborated in bringing her group together with choruses from across the U.P. to perform Beethoven's 9th Symphony with the Detroit Symphony. The Mary Wood Chorus dissolved five years ago due to changes in her responsibilities, but the singers continue to provide vocal leadership at events such as the benefit last December for the North Star Chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
She still teaches private voice lessons, accompanies voice, band and piano students at annual solo and ensemble competitions, and serves as organist and choir director at the Church of the Nativity in Sault Ste. Marie.
The letters of nomination and support for Ms. Wood cited the above accomplishments, but also described her as someone who has left an indelible mark through music on Eastern Upper Peninsula communities. They tell of her ability to share her musical gift with modesty and grace. They outlined Ms. Wood's career spanning more than forty years, during which time she won enduring gratitude and love of many people by providing learning experiences, singing opportunities and loving kindness.
Her leadership was characterized as having one aim - to bring out the best in each individual under her tutelage. Although she is a perfectionist, she is not rigid; though a taskmaster, never critical or cross. It was stated that her wonderful humor and love for people augment her ability to impart to others - young and old - a knowledge of and love for music. Her motivation is a desire that others learn to love and appreciate good music, and that they have opportunities to express that love and appreciation.
Sharon Green has taught music at Graveraet Middle School in Marquette for the past twenty-two years. For sixteen years she has been a member of the Michigan School Vocal Association (MSVA) serving as music selection chairperson, honors choir manager, clinician, adjudicator, member of the Junior and Middle School Steering Committee, and has been twice elected to direct the State Honors Choir.
Her middle school choirs have received numerous high ratings at festivals, not only in performance but also in sight reading - an enviable feat. She has served as divisional chairperson for Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio for the American Choral Director's Association for Junior High Repertoire and Standards, and has worked at various music camps as head counselor, choral director/teacher.
In addition, she has directed the Grace United Methodist Church Chancel Choir for twenty-two years, has put on several talent shows, plays and concerts, and has been a supervisory teacher for 40 student teachers.
People nominating Ms. Green told of more than her numerous professional accomplishments. They told of her ongoing tireless leadership and contagious enthusiasm for choral music and of her ability to inspire some students to become music teachers themselves, while showing others ways to retain music as an integral part of the rest of their lives. They spoke of her philosophy of educating the whole musician by developing a love for the art and offering exceptional performance opportunities.
Through music she successfully teaches things basic to a rich life: appreciation of beauty, expression of emotions, and the ability to work with others toward a common goal. Her students are dear to her as extended family, and her colleagues always receive a willing helping hand. When asked why she does so much and where she gets her energy, she says, "I love kids, they are great, and I love teaching."