Kameron Nettleton

Klaire Linick wasn’t always certain that teaching music was what she was supposed to do.

“It took me a while to figure out that teaching music is what I wanted to do!”

The 2020 graduate majored in Music Education, but that path wasn’t always obvious to her.

“When I chose that degree, I learned that my grandma, who died before I could meet her, also had her degree in music education,” she said. “At that point, I felt like that was confirmation from God that I was walking in the right direction.”

That direction led her first to OKWU and then to Kane Elementary School in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, where she was named the school’s Rising Star Teacher in the spring of 2022. The Rising Star is awarded to a young teacher with less than five years of experience who must be nominated by their peers. Linick received the honor in a public ceremony at Rigdon Field at Doenges Memorial Stadium in Bartlesville last April.

Making Music

Linick, who began her third year of teaching at Kane in August, definitely qualifies as a rising star. Last year, she wrote a grant, asking for 25 new ukuleles to replace the set that she had inherited when arriving at Kane. The ukuleles that were waiting for her needed updating, and her grant was accepted by the Bartlesville Public Schools Foundation.

“I use the ukuleles for my 5th graders,” she said, “and it helps them gain the confidence of learning a new instrument, something I hope all of them will choose to do when they get to middle school.”

Her students have enjoyed learning the instrument and being able to play songs with their friends, Linick noted.

“There were many times I probably would’ve given up had I not had the support of my professors around me to encourage and guide me.”

Linick teaches elementary students from Pre-K through 5th grade. Her position at Kane is her first teaching job out of college. And even though it wasn’t always obvious that teaching was what she was going to do, Linick’s professors at OKWU saw her potential from the start.

Prepared for Success
Klaire and her husband, Dalton

Klaire and her husband, Dalton

“She came in with good skills in music, but as she applied herself on a daily basis, those skills grew exponentially,” said Dr. Jonathan Stewart, associate professor of music. “Klaire was truly one of the best music students I’ve had in more than 20 years of collegiate teaching.”

That’s high praise, but it seems that her co-workers at Kane agree. Linick, for her part, credits professors like Dr. Stewart for helping her grow into the teacher she has become.

“My time at OKWU has been such a big part of who I am in my worldview, and of course the skills I learned to be able to teach,” she said. “I knew I could talk to my professors at any moment and they would stop what they were doing to help me.”

Like a well-crafted musical piece, the skills Linick possessed and the instruction she received at OKWU has honed her into a teacher who is impacting her students and passing on a shared love of music that goes back generations in her own family.

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