“Education is one of my passions, both as a learner and as a teacher. A good teacher can instill a love of learning that lasts a lifetime. Education can help us think critically, solve problems creatively, and interact with others in a positive manner. Ideally, it helps us learn to see things from many perspectives and thus helps us determine our values by which to live. It can help us discover who we are and who were were created to be. Ultimately, I believe that we can’t give what we haven’t received, so it’s very important to give children a wide variety of educational opportunities presented through good role models, with family members being the most influential teachers most people ever have. I also believe we can learn a lot through negative experiences, if we have learned how to put such experiences into a positive perspective, and the people in our lives can help us do that…or not. Ultimately, I believe the good we have received was given to us, so that we can use what we’ve learned for the benefit of others. To me, being a teacher is one of the highest callings everyone has, because, like it or not, we all are role models, and therefore, we are all teachers.” – Eleanor Adams
As the quote shows, Eleanor is a strong believer that education is extremely important, and people teach others whether they intend to or not. During the summer after her first year of college, Eleanor was fortunate enough to work with slow-learning blind children in a residential setting. Eleanor has a passion for working with disabled children and was able to work with them for a brief time in her life. Eleanor worked at a few different schools teaching vocal music to multiply-handicapped children; she remembers praying for a child each week to improve and the very next week she would see improvement. Her love of teaching, combined with her faith, allowed her to really make a difference in the children’s lives. One thing in particular that Eleanor taught the children is how important it is to have patience with oneself through frustration. Children often times hit a plateau when learning to play piano, but Eleanor taught them how to have patience and also to have humor in difficult situations. Eleanor would often times call her piano students Victor Borge whenever they would make the same mistake twice as a way to add humor to the lesson. Victor Borge was a comedian pianist who would use humor in his music. Adding humor to a piano lesson allowed students to relax and be able to hit their notes properly. This mindset helped the students in other areas of life as well.
Please listen to the link below to hear Eleanor discuss a difficult day she had but one that led her to realize she could be a teacher.
Eleanor was a vocal music teacher at a school in Pennsylvania from 1966 to 1967. However, she could not commit to another full year because her husband, Jim, was about to return from Korea and they were being transferred to Fort Knox, Kentucky. Eleanor became a Special Education substitute teacher for grades 8 to 12. After Eleanor had children, she taught piano from her home to many families over the years.
Eleanor took on as many children as she could without it interfering with her family. Family is the most important thing to her and she wanted to be available for her children. To make sure that Eleanor was able to spend enough time with her family, she would limit the number of students she would accept. This allowed her to meet her family’s needs and also share her gift of teaching with others.
One family that Eleanor taught was the McGovern family. Eleanor taught the mother first and then all four of her daughters. Eleanor taught the family from 1998 to 2006. She still is in contact with the family today.
Eleanor was a very responsive piano teacher and had creative solutions when working with her students. Watch the video below to hear Eleanor talk about one of her piano students, Dean, and how she had to get creative.
All photos courtesy of Eleanor Adams.