Jessica McClellan, the new music teacher at Crocker Elementary, says she was quite young when she knew she wanted to be a music teacher. Growing up, she was always involved in choir and other musical pursuits, so the decision was an easy one.
“It was probably around my junior or senior year of high school that I knew I wanted to go into education,” she says. “I had a very influential private music teacher, and I saw how she inspired people, and that experience made me feel called to go into education, and I loved music. Once I started there, I never looked back.”
McClellan received her undergraduate degree at Wartburg College, then went on to get her master’s in music education from University of Missouri-Kansas City. She spent time teaching music to elementary students in Kansas and teaching K-12 students in the Adair-Casey community school district before coming to Ankeny. She says she’s thrilled to be teaching elementary students again.
“They just brighten my day so much,” she says. “I feel like I connect very well to that age group, and I feel like I’m very good at inspiring kids at a young age to want to continue on in music or gain an appreciation or enjoyment of it. It’s so fun to teach them the fundamentals, and I love the enthusiasm and excitement that they bring to the classroom.”
Students can expect a lot of fun in the music room this year. Though her primary instrument is voice, McClellan also plays piano, guitar and ukulele, all of which she’ll be using in her teaching at Crocker.
For McClellan, her main goal is to give each student a love of music that will last a lifetime. Even if they don’t continue to study music formally as part of their education, music is something that everyone can love.
“They need to have strong musical experiences, and I have a really positive attitude, and I love what I do,” she says. “I want to pass that passion on to the kids, whether we’re doing a particular musical theater unit or playing instruments or doing a folk dance, I hope that my enthusiasm rubs off on them.”