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Mrs. Ross breathing new life into Durand music program

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DURAND (WREX) — Family brought Stacy Ross to the stateline.

Originally from the suburbs, Ross made her way to Rockford after getting married.

"My husband is a 'boomeranger.' He is from Rockford and my parents actually retired to Loves Park so that brought us out here to be close to family," Ross said.

Ross has called the stateline home for 15 years and has been teaching for over two decades.

She is in her second year as the K-12 music teacher for the Durand School District.

Music has always been a big part of Mrs. Ross' life.

While she was working for WYCA in Rockford, she would direct church choirs when she wasn't in the classroom.

Now that she has control of Durand's music program, Mrs. Ross is ready to bring something back that the school hasn't had in years.

"We're doing a musical for the first time in 7 years. It hasn't been done for a while," Ross said.

"We've got a big show choir community out here so it's adapting that to some changing times to still have it to be able to bring in new opportunities for the kids like the musical."

Ross finds there's a level of vulnerability when it comes to making music.

She tries to create a quick and genuine bond with her students so they can find harmony in their work.

"With a lot of these kids, I don't know if they're going to continue it afterwards, but hopefully they'll hear a song or something we have done in here and it'll trigger that memory and remind them of how much fun it is to make music and to be a part of something bigger than themselves," Ross said.

At the very least, Mrs. Ross' first period choir kids enjoy her approach.

They find it to be a fun way to get energized for school.

"I think she is one of the best teachers I've had," 8th grader Rachel Proctor said.

"She not only helps you in the classroom but also out of the classroom and she is just a great way to start your day."

Mrs. Ross' impact goes beyond just helping kids hit the right note.

Students are comfortable going to her with their problems because of the trust she builds in them.

"Other teachers will be there because they have to be there. She's here because she cares for how we do in music and she wants us to reach our full potential of it," 7th grader Isaiah Bradford said.

"Sometimes I'll see kids coming in here and Mrs. Ross will help them and talk to them about what they're feeling."

Mrs. Ross doesn't get the same exposure to her students as other teachers.

She is catering to the entire district and is focused on students on a class period basis.

However, what is special about Mrs. Ross' job is she works with kids every year all the way up until graduation if they stay involved with music.

"I don't get 7 hours a day to develop relationships with students but I have years on end to deepen that relationship," Ross said.

"My job 100%, the most important thing to me is relationship building because without that relationship with students, they're not going to trust me."

Winning Teacher of the Week tells Mrs. Ross her effort to build that trust has paid off.

It validates her hard work to provide a productive and positive environment for her students.

The revival of the musical at Durand will be a production of Shrek this semester.

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Evan Leake

Evan Leake anchors for 13 News Today and 13 News at Noon. Evan grew up in Darien, Illinois, a south-west suburb of Chicago. He came to WREX in 2017 and worked his way to the anchor desk in May of 2019. He coordinates both the Teacher of the Week and Inspiring 815 series for 13 News. You can connect with Evan at eleake@wrex.com or Evan Leake on Facebook.

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