The Roanoker - July/August 2020 - 50

MARY LOU HAGEN

Green Valley Elementary
Roanoke County music teacher Mary Lou Hagen begins her 32nd year
at Green Valley Elementary this autumn. Before that, she spent two years
teaching at both Fort Lewis and West Salem elementary schools before
taking 15 years off to raise her children. Hagen's husband, Bo, retired
from teaching in 2003, but she is not ready to do so.
" Teaching music to elementary school children is what I love, so why
should I retire, " she says. " I'm very much looking forward to this school
year starting. "
The 70-year-old Salem resident says her proudest moment was
helping to start and continue Green Valley's Veterans Day Program. It
immediately became an annual event and many other area schools have
followed Green Valley's lead in creating programs honoring area veterans.
" In January 1991, my principal came to me and said he wanted to do
something to support our troops involved in Desert Storm, " she says. " He
explained that he would like an assembly program that would involve
all kids in every grade level, kindergarten through fifth grade, and that
we would videotape the performance so it could be sent overseas. We
decided that the students would perform the official songs of all five
service branches: Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard,
along with other patriotic songs and poems. "
Hagen quickly agreed to the request and asked her principal how much
time she had to prepare; the answer was " about three weeks. " It was then
that she realized the magnitude of the performance. Nevertheless, the
program proved to be a huge success.
" All of the teachers bonded together and helped, and the kids did a
great job, " she says.
Every year but one since then, Hagen and staff have coordinated a
school wide Veterans Day Program on or around November 11, honoring
family and community veterans and active military. A veteran wall of
thanks has grown to over 60 posters with more than a thousand names.
" I have personally typed every name while thinking of the sacrifices
each person has made, " she says. " We also make sure that the event is
never political. We just want to thank our soldiers for their service. "
50

JULY/AUGUST 2020

Hagen says she has also been privileged to introduce thousands
of students to the wonders of music, but certainly one of her many
memorable individuals is Brandon Muse who " loved to march. "
" I remember telling Brandon that he was 'born to lead the band,' "
she says. " So, I was thrilled to hear from Brandon about 10 years after I
taught him that he was leading a choral group at his church.
" But I'm proud of all my students. It's very important to me to try
to make a positive impact on every child, every day, and instill a love of
music. Music was created to make people feel joyful. My mission is to
share that joy with every student I teach, every single day. "

Bruce
INGRAM

Lord Botetourt High School
Teaching is indeed a joy, and this fall, I'll be fortunate to once again
teach such classics as " Night, " " To Kill a Mockingbird " and " Animal
Farm " to my freshmen. They will also research their favorite snacks,
plan a 1930s meal when we study that decade and create their own
Shakespeare-themed skit (replete with Elizabethan insults) when we
study Romeo and Juliet.
I'll marvel at the new interpretations my sophomores come up with
when we read " Of Mice and Men, " " Lord of the Flies " and " Hamlet. "
The tenth graders will also research their family trees, and have the
opportunity to instruct their peers after they research some aspect of
World War II or the Cold War.
My Creative Writing students will daily dazzle me with their
short stories, essays, and responses to prompts, and they'll experience
discussions where we dissect the movies of such directors as Alfred
Hitchcock and Billy Wilder. All my classes will play Bonus Points, a
fast-paced game where the student teams have five seconds to spell,
define, or use vocabulary words in sentences. Do you know what the
word defenestration means? Who wouldn't feel privileged to have a
job like this. I
Note: Bruce Ingram's Creative Writing class at Lord Botetourt proofread
this story.
TheRoanoker.com

MARY LOU HAGEN: COURTESY OF MARY LOU HAGEN / BRUCE INGRAM: COURTESY OF BRUCE INGRAM

Mary Lou
HAGEN

BRUCE INGRAM


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The Roanoker - July/August 2020

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