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What's Up Magazine

Ryan Ferguson

Jan 09, 2018 02:28PM ● By Caley Breese

Photo by Tony Lewis, Jr.

The Summit School, Edgewater

Years Teaching Overall: 6

Years Teaching at Summit:

Currently teaching:
1st–5th General Music; 6th–8th Piano, Guitar, Chorus, Band; 9th–12th Band, Orchestra, AP Music Theory

Proudest teaching moment:
“One of my proudest teaching moments surrounds a performance that took place in spring of 2017. A class of 8th grade students took on the challenge of preparing and performing a full-scale musical—a first-time experience of this kind for our school community. They were reluctant at first, and as we completed auditions, they were even more so! Our students were concerned about lines, songs, choreography, and nervous about what people would think. Turns out, the show went off without a hitch, and our community raved over the stellar performance. There was an infectious buzz that surrounded the class for weeks after, and there was a pride in our students that I had never seen before. Not only was the 8th grade class excited, but the entire school was energized and ready for their own turn in the spotlight. This teaching experience was a challenge, and the students accepted it, and surpassed my expectations in every way. I will always have pride in this experience.”

Teaching Philosophy:
  “I believe that everyone has something to give to the world of performing arts, and that my job is to assist in discovery, navigation, and development of that art within each student. For some students, this ability may lie deep within them, and may not even know it is there. For this reason, I work diligently to create a classroom environment that is laboratory-like where students feel safe to try new things, experience challenges, and learn how to face performance anxiety through strategies and positive performance participation and collaboration.”

Toughest challenge facing educators:
“One of the most challenging tasks for a teacher is to see each student as an individual with specific needs, wants, desires, and dreams, and to be able to reach and engage that student as an individual—while also reaching every other student in the classroom in the same way. One of my strategies is to get to know the students outside of the classroom as best possible. This knowledge allows me to engage on a personal level with most students, and maintain relevance with current grade-level interests and pop culture. But, it’s always a work-in-progress!”

"In his role as Summit’s Performing Arts Instructor, Mr. Ferguson has brought both the thrill and the discipline of live performance to students from first to eighth grade. By introducing a variety of instruments at every grade level, he gives students an appreciation of the time it takes to learn to play, as well as the fun of group dynamics. Beyond instruments, Ferguson accepted and administered the challenge of organizing Summit’s eighth graders to immerse themselves in staging a musical, complete with costumes, sets, memorization, and choreography—students who had never taken part in performance. The resulting event was a joy for the audience and a true awakening for the students. They set their mind to a goal and they did it! Suddenly the world became their (musical) oyster.” —Dr. Joan Mele-McCarthy, Executive Director