Gretchen Betts and Jeanne Trost, both of Marquette were the recipients of the 2002 U. P. Choral Leadership Awards.
Gretchen Betts is a Marquette native who attended the local parochial schools. She received a Bachelor of Music Education from Northern Michigan University in 1970 and a Master of Arts in Music Education in 1976.
From 1970 to 1978 she was a music teacher for the Ishpeming Public schools. During that time she taught in kindergarten, special education, grades 4-8 and directed middle school choruses and ensembles. She received grants from the Michigan Council for the Arts to present Orff-Schulwerk workshops for Upper Peninsula educators and to bring performing and visual artists into the classroom. Gretchen collaborated with grade 6 reading and art teachers to develop the C. L. Phelps Related Arts Project using nature as the inspirational source.
She then taught in the Republic-Michigamme Schools from 1978 to 1987 and developed a K-12 music curriculum. During this time she directed many related-arts productions. She received minigrants from the Marquette-Alger Intermediate School District for song writing folk arts and related-arts composition workshops with upper elementary students.
She was a co-founder of the Children’s Theater Factory in Los Angeles, which is a summer day camp offering experience in the performing and visual arts. In 1981 she received a special proclamation from the Los Angeles City Council for composing and directing her original music for the Los Angeles Bicentennial. In 1982 she also received the Award of Merit from the Michigan Music Educators Association and the Distinguished Service to Education Award from Phi Delta Kappa.
Gretchen began teaching in the N. I. C. E. Community Schools in 1987. She has taught K-5 music and directed the middle school choruses and other ensembles. Her choirs have regularly received superior ratings at Michigan Schools Vocal Music Association District Choral and Ensemble Festivals. She continues to work in the multi-cultural areas sharing her knowledge of the Native American and African American cultures with her students and the public. She presented classes on African music to social studies methods students at Northern Michigan University.
In 1995 she was selected as the Music Educator of the Year by the Michigan Music Education Association. That same year she was awarded a Service to Education Citation from the Board of Control and president of Northern Michigan University. She has performed with the Marquette Choral Society as a mezzo-soprano soloist. She is a charter member of the Cathedral Carillon at St. Peter Cathedral and has taught liturgical music for lay ministers of the Marquette Catholic Diocese in 2000. Gretchen currently performs with other musicians for charitable events and fund raisers using her original lyrics and compositions arranged for voice, piano, recorders, dulcimers and Irish folk harps.
Her school administrator stated: “She is an outstanding educator who exemplifies the highest standards of the teaching profession. She is a highly motivated teacher who exhibits a true love of music. In her teaching she transmits and conveys the joy of singing to her students and provides them with many opportunities to perform and share their music. Gretchen touches and affects the lives of many students. She instills in them a positive self-image and an appreciation for the arts.”
Jeanne Trost, a native of Riverview, Michigan, attended Eastern Michigan University for two years and transferred to Central Michigan University, graduating with a Bachelor of Music Education in 1954. She received her Masters of Music Education from Northern Michigan University in 1972.
In 1954 and 1955 she taught in the Midland County Public Schools in grades K-8. This assignment involved twelve schools, mostly one-room schools. She traveled 75 miles daily and said: “I felt like I was on the road more than I was teaching.”
From 1956 through 1960 she taught music in the Weidman Public Schools for grades K-12. She also taught high school English and was study hall monitor. She then did substitute teaching for several years.
Jeanne and her family moved to Marquette in 1966 and she began her teaching career as a part-time music teacher at then Graveraet Junior High in 1968. She began teaching music at Sandy Knoll in 1971 for grades K-6, later adding Parkview Elementary School. At one point in time she taught in all the Marquette Elementary schools, averaging a total of 56 classes every two weeks.
One of the many programs her choirs participated in was the Community Choral Collage featuring vocal groups from K-12 and community singers. Sandy Knoll and Parkview vocal students took part in a combined choral concert with all the elementary choirs each spring for several years. Her students presented many programs: a school-wide talent show, Christmas programs, and musicals to honor special holidays and historic events.
Jeanne and co-workers were involved with their students in the Northern Michigan University musical productions of “Noah’s Flood” and “Hansel and Gretel”. These productions included students, adults, teachers, orchestra, artists, and the community.
She and Skip Aylward, an art teacher, were awarded a National Endowment for Artists Grant for a dance in the schools component during the 1975-76 school year. This involved correlating music and dance with all areas of school curriculum. The grant provided the opportunity to attend the Summer Dance Festival at Duke University to receive training in classroom activities incorporating music and movement. They brought the Atlanta Contemporary Dance Company and other professional artists to provide curriculum-based experiences for Marquette students for a six-week period. The project drew the attention of many state and national leaders in the arts community. It proved to be so successful that the grant was renewed three more times.
In 1978 the Marquette Area Public Schools and Sandy Knoll were invited to participate in the National Very Special Arts Festival in Washington, D. C. Students were invited to perform a piece combining music and movement on “How A Bill Goes Through Congress.” This was a special honor, because many special-needs children were main-streamed into the school classrooms.
Jeanne has been involved in directing children and youth choirs and singing in adult choirs of churches in the cities where she has lived. She is a charter member of the Marquette Choral Society and served as vice president on the board through our 25th anniversary celebration in 1996. She was chairperson for three years on the Choral Society Awards Support Committee.
Quotations from her former administrators and co-workers praised her love of music and the way she brought that to her students. “She captivated her audience, making them anxious to become involved in music. Jeanne often told little stories about the music they were learning.” “She was on a mission to provide the best music programs for students that was physically possible.” Another stated: “Her sunny disposition, kind heart and sense of humor endeared her to all.”