Glen Rock welcomes new choir teacher


New choir teacher, Rachel Beeksma, joined the GRHS faculty this year.

by Anna Barton, Staff Writer

A new choir teacher joined the high school staff this September, filling in the vacated position of former teacher, Ms. Phyllis Sneyers.

Ms. Rachel Beeksma is originally from Escanaba, Michigan. She feels that she fits in well with her surroundings.

When news of Sneyers upcoming retirement surfaced, Mr. Carl Helder, the choir teacher, began his search to fill her position. The process involved reviewing a series of applicants.

“We had a lot of candidates coming from a variety of schools,” Helder said. “We had a lot of applicants, but most of them were totally fresh new teachers with Bachelor degrees, whereas Mrs. Beeksma had her Masters.”

According to Helder, Beeksma proved the strongest candidate, both in her resumé and in her passion for teaching.

“We had her come in and she did a demo lesson for us along with a few other teachers and, of the teachers that we had in, she was the strongest,” Helder said.

Her passion for singing distinguished her from the rest of the applicants.

She began private singing lessons in fourth grade. Since then, she performed in numerous choirs, including the Wild Scats, which is a vocal jazz group that is student lead and a Symphonic Choir, which performed major works with famous orchestras including New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Vienna Philharmonic.

Beeksma’s favorite group was the Williamson Voices, led by Dr. James Jordan, which she traveled twice with to Oxford, United Kingdom.

As a high school senior, Beeksma sang in the All-State Honors choir when she performed Adiemus, written by Karl Jenkins.

“It was during that song that I felt a deep connection to the music and the performers that I cannot really explain,” Beeksma said.  “It was just pure joy and love for what I was doing in that moment. It was then that I decided to become a music teacher; to help others see how music can change someone’s core and be a part of something bigger than themselves.”

She graduated from Northern Michigan University, where she majored in Music Education, and later received her Masters from Westminster Choir College in New Jersey.

Prior to teaching in Glen Rock, she taught in Ironwood, Michigan, and Ashland High School in Wisconsin.

Beeksma applied for the open Concert Choir teacher position when she and her husband relocated to New Jersey.

“I feel very lucky to be here.  The school really cares about vocal music, so there is a lot of support.  This is not the case in other states. This is a really great school and I am looking forward to staying here for a while.”