Words of thanks from various scholarship recipients:

Claire Baker

Summer Dialogue Scholarship

Mankato West High School

A sincere thank you for sponsoring scholarships for ACDA MN Summer Dialogue. I was fortunate enough to be a scholarship recipient this year as a first time attendee. I have heard nothing but wonderful things about Dialogue from my choral colleagues but, between two babies (and subsequent maternity leaves) and the pandemic, it just never worked in my schedule. From this point forward, I can say with certainty that the first weekend in August will always have a spot in my calendar for Summer Dialogue.

I, like many, have been feeling the stresses of the pandemic – personally, professionally, and within my school music program. Summer Dialogue was the inspiration and encouragement I needed to reignite my spark for choral music. I reconnected with long-time friends and made great new connections and friendships. Too often when I leave professional development meetings, I feel more bogged down with responsibilities and a longer laundry list of things I need to do. After Dialogue, my head was spinning – but this time with excitement and a newfound energy for new ideas and repertoire that I was itching to use in my classroom. It’s not often that I’m ready to think about school the very first week of August!

Thank you to the committee, the ACDA MN executive board members, and last (but certainly not least) my choral colleagues both in attendance and supporting from afar. I’m proud to be a part of this community and I am excited to continue learning, growing, and sharing the infinite knowledge from ACDA MN members with my students.

Bailey Geist Scholttman

Summer Dialogue Scholarship

Spring Lake Park Public Schools

This summer I was given a wonderful gift and opportunity to attend the ACDA Summer Dialogue at St. John’s on behalf of a kind scholarship from the FMC Endowment Fund Committee. As a choral conductor in Minnesota who has never attended this educational experience, I was very honored and completely excited to receive this gift and to partake in my first Summer Dialogue.

After spending three days at St. John’s, I can without a doubt say that I am refreshed and feel a deep renewal to the choral arts not only in our state, but with my elementary and middle school students. Conducting and teaching throughout COVID-19 has taken a toll on so many of us, and I found that being with my fellow Minnesotan choral colleagues helped me to see that I am not alone and that other directors are experiencing similar realities as my own. As a conductor who grew up and studied outside of Minnesota, I found myself making many new friends and connections with colleagues from all across the state, which will undoubtedly continue to grow as I continue on in my profession.

The Summer Dialogue furthermore provided the opportunity for me to make music once again, through singing in the Conductor’s Chorus. As teachers we oftentimes get swept away in the teaching and conducting realm and singing with fellow inspired musicians was a true gift! The reading sessions, dialogue opportunities, and educational experiences with a DIE focus were beyond meaningful, and I appreciate that ACDA MN is taking on an active role in being anti-racist not only during our conventions and summer dialogue, but in every facet of our musical and personal experiences in the choral arts.

I know that I will be cherishing my time at the ACDA Summer Dialogue for many years to come, and I cannot wait to be more active in this event and all of the MN ACDA events in the future. Our choral arts are strong in Minnesota, and I absolutely believe that we are headed in a direction of change and equity for all of our singers.

Thank you again for this wonderful opportunity.

Stephanie Luedtke

Summer Dialogue Scholarship

Math and Science Academy, Woodbury

I want to express my heartfelt thanks for your support in providing me a scholarship to attend Summer Dialogue earlier this month. It was a warm, stimulating, challenging experience, and I appreciate the opportunity to take part. I especially appreciated a deep, intentional focus on diversity and inclusion, as this is one of my values and a goal that I’ll be working on in my teaching this year. I enjoyed getting to know the other participants and learning from the presenters and chairs. Thank you so much!

Andrea Brinkman

Summer Dialogue Scholarship

Mankato East High School

I would like to take a moment to share my personal experiences while attending the 2022 ACDA Summer Dialogue as a recipient of the 2022 FMC Scholarship and give my utmost gratitude.

I will forever hold in my heart Bruce Becker’s immediate heartfelt greeting and embrace of Claire Baker (my Mankato West colleague) and I as we walked in together on the first morning of Dialogue at registration. He made us feel seen and special in just a short moment. He stood up and gave us both a hug. “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.” Thank you, Bruce.

I am grateful and humbled for the honest and difficult conversation that G. Phillip Schultz and Melanie DeMore graciously gave of their time to have with me which resulted in both holding me accountable professionally, as well as offering up insight and advice as to how to continue to navigate delicate issues and appropriateness in this ever changing and evolving world. I respect both of them for their unapologetic advocacy for their people, their culture, and their high expectation for us/me to do better. I will do better. I will be better. I will continue to do the work to learn and grow both personally and professionally. Thank you both so very much.

I felt honored to have been in the presence of Dr. Anton Armstrong as he addressed us in his keynote speech. I was moved to tears. I was in awe of his presence. I heard every word he spoke, and I admire his resolve to continue to change, grow, and accept that complacency will not work right now; and yet I love knowing he is not willing to abandon himself, his beliefs, his knowledge gained through life experiences for the extremism that is so much a part of the times.

I want to say thank you and honor ALL of the directors that I’ve admired throughout my twenty years as a music educator: particularly my predecessor, Robin Hughes, from Mankato East High School. Robin is an equal trifecta of badass, sensitive soul, and pure love. She is the reason Claire and I decided to apply for the FMC Summer Dialogue scholarship. As a young director, I remember watching Robin direct the East choir at the MMEA mid-winter clinic in my early twenties thinking,

“That. THAT is what I aspire to be.”

I’ve always admired her as a woman director, as an advocate and fighter in this profession, and although she’s retired she is still extremely active and present, and I am so grateful for that.

Diane Heaney: thank you. Your leadership and strength I’ve admired for many years. You have this ability to make everything look easy, and yet you are so honest and open about the things that are not.

It was an honor to observe both Dwight Jilek and Rosephanye Powell during All State rehearsals. Thank you to both of you for your high standards and expectations of excellence, and proving that it works.

To Chris Fettig, who was a section leader for the All State TTBB choir (and choir director at Bemidji High School): you are brilliant. Your thoughtful insights and realness are magnetic. Thank you for your time, grace, kindness, encouragement, and willingness to have conversations with me over the years, and at Dialogue, when I’ve been afraid and unsure of myself.

As someone who is going to be starting their twentieth year in the field of music education: I want everyone to know how much I appreciated Dialogue. It reinforced that I’m not alone in feeling a sense of imposter syndrome, but also reinforced that I am worthy and deserving of where I’m at. I don’t have to be perfect, I just have to show up. My (recovering) Type A/perfectionistic soul needed to hear that. I had been feeling paralyzed in the not knowing. The confusion of how and what to teach. The fears of getting it wrong and hurting my students.  Attending Dialogue allowed those feelings within me to dissipate. Thank you ALL so very much.

Lastly, I want to specifically thank all of the ACDA committee members, and board for making this event possible. Your hard work and dedication did not go unnoticed. I look forward to making connections with each of you. I appreciate all you do for us as choir directors in the state of Minnesota. We are lucky to have you.