Betsy Young

Have you had a teacher mark the birthdays of all her students on her calendar so she could sing to them on their special days? Betsy Young’s students have! The choir, piano lab and band teacher at Harlem Middle School with 28 years of teaching experience previously taught general music and English/Spelling/Literature. Her dedication to students and to music education is not limited to the music room. She received Peer Pride recognition at HMS for compiling digital music and adjusting sound levels for athletic and fine arts events; led a fundraising campaign to replace sound equipment; represents general education teachers in IEP meetings; and performs in local events with Rock Valley College Community bands and the Rockford Wind Ensemble. She provides help not just to her students, but also to all the Harlem School District’s music teachers so they can attend the ILMEA Middle School Band Festival. In his recommendation letter, RVC Band director, Erik Oberg said, “Betsy believes in teaching students more than just the notes; she strives to teach students the intrinsic value of learning and trying their best simply because it is the right thing to do.” Her efforts to communicate student highs and lows and ways parents can help don’t go unnoticed. One parent nominated Betsy, commenting that she makes Middle School a safe place to grow for students who love music. Clearly, what Betsy does makes a difference. Early in her career, Betsy felt she had found a school home where she was nurtured and could nurture her students. She created the music program. She was named Teacher of the Year. The school, parents and students were happy with her work. But, unbeknownst to her, this private school was on the brink of financial failure. At the end of the first semester of her third year, Betsy was told that because of finances, the school was cutting her position immediately. Two days later, an anonymous donor agreed to pay her salary for the remainder of the school year! “The lesson I learned was affirmation of my value as a teacher. Victories like this, along with all the smaller daily successes, keep me ignited to dream big for my students and what they can accomplish.”