The story doesn't start in Libertyville but it ends there.
When I was finishing my doctorate in East Lansing in the winter of 2000, I started looking for a college teaching position. It was my dream at the time to work at the college level. I was only 29 years old (turning 30 in April of that year) and I wasn't having any luck getting a college interview. My major professor at Michigan State University heard through his professional channels that there was a large high school in Illinois that was looking for a choir director. I decided to apply for the job at Stevenson High School, in Lincolnshire, IL. The director there, my now good friend Alice Nuteson, was taking a full year maternity leave to have her first child. I drove out from Michigan on a Sunday evening and Alice and her husband Mike were gracious enough to let me stay in there home for an early Monday morning interview. I interviewed for the job that Monday morning in the winter of 2000 and the faculty at SHS took a chance on me.
During the 3 years that I lived in Michigan, I worked as the Director of Music at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Lansing, MI. I worked there for 3 years (1997-2000) and directed the Adult Choir, Handbells, Contemporary Praise Band, as well as all youth and children's music. After I had been notified that I had gotten the job at Stevenson High School, I started looking for a church job in Illinois. My first child, Alexandria, had just been born in March of 2000 and I could use the supplemental income. I was just starting to use the internet on a regular basis then and found a job posting for a Contemporary Worship Director at the United Methodist Church in Libertyville, IL. I had to look on a map to find out that Lincolnshire and Libertyville for only a few miles apart and that it might be a possibility for me. I made another trip to Michigan to interview for the job at the church in Libertyville in early June of 2000. The contemporary worship service had was only about a year old and they needed someone with strong music skills who could bring some stability to the service. They took a chance on me as well and I was hired at the contemporary worship director starting in the Fall of 2000.
In July of 2000, I made the move from Michigan to Arlington Heights, IL where we rented an apartment and I began working at choir director at Stevenson HS and Contemporary Worship Director at UMCL. In November of 2000, I met with Alice and she told me that she was looking forward to coming back to her job. It was at that point that I started looking for another high school teaching position. I applied for jobs in New York, Kansas City, Chicago, and Dallas. I had no idea where I was going to working and the possibility of packing up and moving again was staring me in the face.
One Sunday morning in early December, a member at UMCL, Jan Bees, came over to me and said, "Did you know the choir director at Libertyville High School is retiring?" At the time I hadn't heard that news. Jan's daughters were both at LHS and played in band. She was an active band parent and had the inside scoop on what was going on. After hearing about the potential retirement of then choir director, Carol Ramsey, I started researching the school district. It was exciting to find out that Libertyville had one of the most well respected music departments in the entire state of Illinois. So, I applied for the job and waited to see if I would get an interview. I did get an interview and was excited for the opportunity. I feel that I was in the right place at the right time being at Stevenson. All of the music teachers at Libertyville knew the teachers at Stevenson and after my interview they started talking to each other about me and what I was like to work with.
The interview was in early March and I was starting to get nervous when I hadn't heard anything from LHS in about a month. While I was waiting to hear from LHS, I received an interview from a the Bethlehem Central School District in Albany, NY. I didn't want to go to NY at the time but had to leave all my options open. I took a chance and called LHS to see if they were getting close to a decision before I spent the money to fly to Albany for the interview. The Fine Arts Supervisor at the time, Dan Patterson, told me that they were close to a decision and to give him one more day. He called me the next day to tell me that they wanted me to be the next choir director at Libertyville HS.
That was in April of 2001. I started at LHS in the Fall of 2001. There were 87 total students in choir when I started and we consistently maintain 200 students in the choir program. I feel like it was fate that I got the job at Libertyville High School. I didn't know that it was one of the most coveted jobs in the entire Chicagoland area at the time. I happened to be at the right place at the right time and all of the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. This is my 19th year at LHS and we are still going strong.