Teacher of high note
Linda Honn has been in Central Valley district for 29 years
In Linda Honn’s music class at University Elementary School this week, students learned about the different kinds of instruments in an orchestra. They knew about woodwinds, brass instruments, strings and percussion.
They saw pictures of violins, cellos and bassoons and identified each one.
At the elementary school level, music classes are more of an overview of music in general. They learn to play percussion instruments and move on to the bells. They sing. In fourth and fifth grade, they learn to play the recorder.
This is Honn’s 29th year as a music teacher in the Central Valley School District. On Feb. 17, she will be inducted into the Washington Music Educators Association’s Hall of Fame. Her name will go up on a wall at Central Washington University and she will get a plaque.
The Hall of Fame was started in 1998 with 125 members. Two years later, another 70 members were added. Since then, 10 educators have been chosen for this honor every two years.
“It’s deserving as well as it is a big deal,” said University Elementary Principal Sue Lennick.
Lennick said Honn has been instrumental in the development of the elementary music program in Central Valley. Whenever Lennick visits Honn’s classroom she comes away having learned something.
“She sure does make music fun,” Lennick said.
Honn said she was nominated by another music educator, but she doesn’t know who it was.
She does know that it isn’t often the WMEA picks an elementary school teacher for its Hall of Fame.
Honn, 51, grew up with music in Ephrata, Wash. She started taking piano lessons when she was 5 years old and continued with music through school.
When she got to college at Eastern Washington University, she knew she wanted to teach music, but teaching music at the elementary level was a new idea to her.
“I didn’t have an elementary music teacher,” she said. “From the get-go, that was my goal.”
Since 1983 she has been teaching students throughout the Central Valley School District. She has taught at Broadway, Progress, Keystone (which is now Summit School), Blake, University Elementary, Sunrise, Chester and the Spokane Valley Learning Academy.
She splits her time now between University Elementary and Sunrise.
She said when she first started teaching music, families used to sing together. Now, when children come to her class for the first time, they think of music as more of a spectator activity. Some have been to concerts and listen to music at home, but they hadn’t thought of participating.
“They want to watch,” she said. “They do love music; it’s just their way of coming at it.”
She said she has always loved performing. In her classes, she said every student gets a chance to perform.
“I want that to be a memorable experience,” she said.
In the fourth and fifth grades, students get a school-owned recorder to take home while they are learning. They learn about the responsibility of an instrument and learn the importance of practicing on their own time. She said it is also when they start learning to read music.
When she’s not teaching, she likes to spend her vacations camping, sings in her church choir and loves puzzles, such as crosswords or sudoku. She also teaches music methods for nonmusic education teachers at EWU.
She has been married to her husband, Dan, for 30 years and has two children: Nicholas, 23, who studied architecture, and Renee, 20, who is now studying music education.
She and her husband live in the Central Valley School District and her children attended CV schools, although never the schools in which she worked.
Along with music, she also teaches remedial math twice a week. She said she minored in math and has a dual degree – she can be a classroom teacher or a music teacher.
In fact, after doing her student teaching at Broadway Elementary School, she considered switching to a regular classroom.
But she decided on music and even connects what students are doing in music class to what they are learning in their regular classroom. One class at University is studying Dr. Seuss, so they have been singing songs connected with the books.
When asked what her favorite thing about being a music teacher is, she credited her students.
“It’s the excitement of the kids,” she said.
But the celebration in Yakima isn’t the only time Honn will be honored this month. The staff will gather Friday for cake and flowers to congratulate her.
“We’re going to be having our own celebration, too,” Lennick said.