BCSI Teacher Spotlight: Kate Nadolny
Kate Nadolny teaches music at Pineapple Cove Classical Academy at West Melbourne, Florida. A native of the Sunshine State, she received her bachelor’s degree in music from Stetson University and her master’s degree in opera performance from the University of Michigan.
Describe how you came to Pineapple Cove:
When I was finishing my master’s degree at the University of Michigan, a colleague who had graduated from Hillsdale College encouraged me to apply for an adjunct vocal instructor position at Hillsdale. I did, and I received the job. During my time at Hillsdale, I met Phil Kilgore, director of BCSI, and learned all about the College’s work in establishing classical charter schools. I only stayed at Hillsdale for a year and then moved back to Florida due to some family health concerns. But in my short time at Hillsdale, I saw how Hillsdale students were a different breed—they were more thoughtful, intuitive, and passionate about learning. I taught for three years at a public school, but when I learned that BCSI was opening a school near me, I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of an environment like what I had encountered at Hillsdale.
How is your music program structured?
I am the music teacher for the whole school, which currently offers kindergarten through 7th grade. Grades K-5 have music class one day a week for the entire year. Grades 6-7 have music class five days a week for one-quarter of the school year. Additionally, I lead Strings Club and Chorus Club for grades 4-7, Kalypso Kids for grades K-2, and an ORFF Ensemble (consisting of percussion and recorders) for grades 3-7. These groups meet before or after school.
What are your favorite things to teach?
I love the first day of teaching 3rd graders how to play their recorders. Watching their faces light up as they learn the notes and then put the notes together to play “Hot Cross Buns,” the national anthem of recorders, is priceless! I also enjoy teaching my students about Beethoven. He had such an interesting, yet sad, life. Students really connect to his music because it’s so approachable. They can hear the pain Beethoven was feeling when they listen to “Moonlight Sonata.” It raises the question: “Can I enjoy music even if it’s sad?” It’s a difficult concept for children, but it helps them relate to the different emotions music represents.
What is different about teaching in a classical school?
Music is considered a core subject in classical education, a philosophy that dates to antiquity. Socrates and Plato advocated for educating in the creative arts because it helps to shape the soul of a child. All of us at Pineapple Cove, with the support of our students’ parents, are working toward a common goal—helping to shape our scholars to become good, intelligent citizens. How awesome it is to be a part of widening the horizons of these young minds to appreciate all things beautiful, awe-inspiring, and wonderful! But this education is a two-way street. Through their curiosity and love of learning, my students have taught me things I never knew I needed and have nourished my soul.