Ripon College connections helped land teaching position for Kate Myszewski ’19
Ripon College’s beautiful campus and connections with professors during visits convinced Katherine “Kate” Myszewski ’19 to attend Ripon College. Though Ripon was not originally on her list of colleges to consider, Myszewski says “my mom’s friend was on the Board of Trustees so I came for a tour and I was able to sit down with Professor (Kurt) Dietrich,” now professor emeritus of music, who told her about the different opportunities she could have at Ripon College as a music student.
At Ripon, she was a music major and an educational studies minor, a combination that would become the new music education major. She is now the band director at Webster Middle School in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. She gets students started learning about music in fifth grade and then teaches them music and how to play in grades six through eight. She also runs the jazz band, takes students on trips to play at Bucks games in Milwaukee and the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, prepares them for solo and ensemble performances, and helps with marching band.
Myszewski particularly connected with a few professors at Ripon College who were a big part of her getting her job upon graduation. Sandy Polcyn, an adjunct professor at Ripon College and band director at Ripon High School, helped her learn how to manage a classroom and how to connect with students.
“Professor Dietrich was always there if I needed help,” Myszewski says, and he would come into the practice room and help her with whatever she was working on so she could become a better musician. Dietrich and Polcyn also called people as Myszewski was applying for jobs, and this led to her getting the interview and the job in Cedarburg.
Also while attending Ripon, Myszewski became part of the Wisconsin Symphonic Winds with Dietrich and later the Knightwood Ensemble, both semi-professional ensembles that play high-level music and allowed Myszewski to grow as a musician.
Myszewski says the most rewarding part of her time at Ripon were the connections she made, including close friends, being able to build a diverse community as part of the residence life staff, and meeting people in the wider Ripon community by working as the music teacher at First Congregational Church of Ripon and watching the children she worked with grow up.
She says the professors involved in the music education program are dedicated to getting students to graduate in four years, including their time student teaching. Other programs in the state often take five years or more for students to move through the programs.
Jillian Heidenreich ’22