As many SM North Choir students already know, the current choral director, Juli O’Mealey will not be returning next year
O’Mealey has been at North for 7 years and has mixed feelings about leaving.
“It is very bittersweet,” O’Mealey said. “I love SMN, the students, the families, the community, teaching music. But I know that it is time for me to pursue something else.”
The chaotic schedule of directing the choir is one of O’Mealey’s reasons for leaving.
“Being a high school choir teacher involves being at school many nights and weekends,” she said. “So I plan to work a very boring job that allows me to leave after work and pursue music, art, spend time with my husband, etc.”
Besides O’Mealey, accompanist Corey Hastings will also be leaving next school year.
Hastings is planning her own non-profit organization to help students with different performing arts.
“Over the years, I have struggled a bit trying to identify how I wanted to live out my days,” she said. “Thanks to my time here at SMN, I have been able to get a glimpse into peoples’ stories, seeing their struggles and successes and realizing that sometimes we just need a safe place to go where we are understood, welcomed, and encouraged. I guess that’s what gave birth to the idea of what I’ve been calling “Tyler’s House.” ”
Hastings program is still being processed.
“I’m still trying to define things,” she said. “But in a nutshell, Tyler’s House will be a safe place for students to come after hours, where creative arts programming will be used to instill a sense of purpose and community and make room for people to learn, heal, and grow. ”
Next year’s choral director, Hilary Morton, currently teaches at Free State High School.
“This has been my life for 17 years and I’ve worked with thousands of people in that duration,” Morton said. “I will be sad to leave families I have taught over my tenure here, and of course working with my associate director who is one of my best friends.”
Morton is nervous to start at a new school.
“No matter how long you’ve taught, starting at a new school is like your first year of teaching all over again,” she said. “I look forward to talking with Ms. O’Mealey about how the program is structured and learning the music library and of course meeting all of the great singers in the program. I look forward to getting to know the faculty at North as well as the families that make up the population of the school.”
Morton hopes to bring certain aspects of her teaching to North as well.
“I want to bring a demand for excellence in all that we do and build a sense of community in general,” Morton said. “In choir, we learn about way more than singing, and that’s why I went into education.”
O’Mealey has a message for her students before she leaves.
“I would want the choir to know how much I love them, how grateful I am for giving their hearts and voices to our musical endeavors and that I hope they will continue to sing as long as they can breathe,” O’Mealey said.