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Ring the bell, time to go back to school: this week on The Green Room

Theater director Minda Nyquist getting acquainted with her new office at West High School in Traverse City.
Daniel Wanschura

Ready or not, it’s back to school time!

While students are cherishing their last days of summer, teachers are busily preparing for the upcoming school year.

Minda Nyquist is one of them. She’s getting ready for her new role as the theater director at West High School in Traverse City. She’s taking over for Kristie Bach, who developed the theater program at West into the renown program it is today. Minda hopes to continue to build on what Kristie started 18 years ago.

“Of course there’s pressure,” she says. “People expect something at this school because they’re used to it, and it’s been a tradition in this community that this program has been at its top peak. And so yes, a lot of pressure goes along with that to keep it moving forward,” says Minda.

While she says she can’t wait to get started, Minda admits to a little bit of anxiety.

“The butterflies have started,” she says. “I’ve only had a few nightmares. But really the best thing that I just have to remember is that I need to just breathe.”

Margaret Pierson, on the other hand, is very familiar with first days of school. She’s been teaching for 35 years. 

Margaret Pierson, with one of her music students.
Credit Sarah Carr
Margaret Pierson, with one of her music students.

As the music teacher at Traverse City Christian School and Blair Elementary, Pierson is a firm believer that anyone can become a musician—anywhere, anytime.

“Always assume everybody’s got this wonderful gift,” she explains. “You never discount anybody.”

Margaret often uses the simplest of instruments to ignite her students musical creativity—things like bouncy balls, rocks, or their own voices. Her goal isn’t so much to meet academic standards. She says tests and evaluations can’t measure creative freedom.“You’re dealing with a human being, and you want to create a human being that’s healthy, and that’s happy, and that’s going to be able to contribute to your society,” she says.

“And that is the part of evaluations that’s disappointing to me, because that’s not part of student growth.”

Kate Botello is a host and producer at Classical IPR.