Volunteering her time for tunes
The 73-year-old wasn’t born and raised in Texas, but came to the Thorndale area as soon as she could.
“I am from Missouri. I went to a Lutheran Teaching College for two years and was sent out on an emergency certification program,” Schneider said. “I requested a school in Texas and I got St. Paul.”
She was a Kindergarten teacher at the Lutheran School in Thorndale for six years before she left to become a mother.
Two children later Schneider went back to the classroom, this time as Kindergarten teacher at Thorndale ISD. I t was a position she would keep for the next 28 school terms.
FAMILY TIME—She and husband Kelton had three children and three grandchildren. They are a sense of pride for the couple.
“I got to teach all of my children and all of my grandchildren,” Schneider said.
The couple will have been married 49 years in June. He is handicapped from a stroke suffered several years ago, but sometimes attends the music classes with his wife.
“He loves to be there with them and they love having him there,” Schneider said.
WHY GO BACK—Schneider retired from the classroom a little over a decade ago, leaving the profession she had known for over 30 years. Then came Sept. 11, 2001. Events that changed the way Americans looked at things. During the time after, it came to Schneider’s attention that younger members of the community weren’t familiar with patriotic tunes.
“I was concerned about the music program,” she said. T he kids didn’t know the patriotic songs.” H er love of children shone through again and Schneider decided to give up her Friday afternoons to teach music to the younger Thorndale ISD students.
PRIDE—One would think that keeping the attention of a bunch of young kids at the end of the school week would be difficult, but not for Schneider.
“When I am singing, they are right there with me,” she said. “We go from one song to the next so it doesn’t leave them any time to get in trouble.”
Thorndale Elementary School principal Dr. John Rueter believes Schneider is a huge asset to TISD.
“It is a labor of love for her and she doesn’t ask anything in return. It is great to hear the kids sing real songs that I remember from growing up,” Rueter said. “She is a remarkable woman who is willing to give up her time and we are grateful for it. Our kids are better for it.”
Thorndale Elementary librarian Kim Laywell gets to see first hand how much the students enjoy their time with Schneider, as the music lessons take place in the elementary library.
“The kids love Fridays. They love getting to come to music,” Laywell said.
LOUDEST—Throughout her time there, Schneider has taught music to kids from Pre-Kindergarten all the way through third grade.
“This year I am teaching the Kindergarten, first and second graders. They love it and I love teaching them,” Schneider said. “We sing patriotic songs, children’s songs and I teach them the school song and songs I learned when I was in school.”
Knowing the Thorndale School Song is a sense of pride for the little ones and others at TISD recognize Schneider’s effort in teaching it to them. “We have many kids who move in and don’t know the school song, but those who have had Mrs. Schneider remember it. They are the loudest ones singing it during the pep rallies,” Laywell said.
The librarian said that her family moved to TISD when her daughter was in third grade and Schneider’s music class made an immediate impression on her nine-year-old.
“My daughter would come home just singing all these songs and we’d ask her where she had learned them,” Laywell said. “Mrs. Schneider would teach them songs I remember growing u p. When we’d get in the car, our daughter would just sit in our back seat and sing.”
MOST REWARDING— After having done this for so many years, Schneider still loves to watch children learn.
“When you see them moving to the music it is rewarding. I even have some students that have written songs and we have learned them and I keep them,” she said. “ Years later I’ll have a student say that was my brother’s or sister’s song.”
Throughout the school year, Schneider will teach songs about the different holidays and also the National Anthem and “Texas Our Texas”. S he also helps with the annual school Christmas program.
Schneider is a very good piano player as well, having performed at the Christmas programs and also having volunteered her time as an organ player for area churches.
“I am just so impressed with her and how happy the kids are to sing. I really enjoy watching them. S he is so patient w ith them and she doesn’t even get paid for doing this,” Laywell said. “I just can’t say enough nice things about Mrs. Schneider.”
NOT STOPPING—Schneider doesn’t plan to stop sharing her love of music to the school children any time soon.
“At 73, I’ll keep going as long as my body will let me.”