Britain Elementary School students will be welcomed back to the new school year with a sweet surprise from music teacher Laura Walsh: a set of nine brand new ukuleles. But not just any ukuleles. These matte black, soprano ukuleles are made from carbon fiber composite, allowing them to be thoroughly disinfected after each use.
These water- and weather-proof ukuleles are the result of months of planning and fundraising by Walsh. In October, Walsh started a Donors Choose page with the goal of raising over $600 dollars to buy instruments that she could take on her mobile classroom cart. Thanks to several friends, family members and anonymous donors, Walsh’s goal was reached in late November, and the ukuleles arrived in the mail just last week.
For Walsh, this is just one of many ways she is thinking outside the box in order to share her love of music with her students.
“In a lot of ways, I’ve really liked this year, it’s made me have to be creative,” says Walsh. “I frequently find that limitations actually help you be creative. Sometimes when everything is on the table and everything is an option, what do you choose? It’s overwhelming. But when you have certain parameters put around you, you can really stretch yourself and get creative.”
And she certainly has. In fact, her creativity has quickly made her a star on campus.
“We cannot get enough of her innovative ideas and creativity,” says Britain’s principal, Mariela Magro-Malo. “She’s always getting shout outs, she’s been teacher of the month and been nominated several more times. She has something special for every single grade. It doesn’t matter what class, the kids are so excited.”
More than anything, Walsh hopes that her students will come to share her love for music. A huge part of her life since she was a child, music is the ultimate way for Walsh to connect with her in-person and remote students.
“I want kids to have a fundamental love for music, whether or not they choose to pursue music when they are older,” says Walsh. “They need a fundamental love for music because it’s about expression, it’s about understanding other cultures, it’s this ultimate form of connection. Even more so now when we can’t always see each other physically, but we can still listen to the same music, we can still have conversations about these emotions that music evokes.”