Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

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Central’s new choir co-director brings new energy and enthusiasm to the classroom

Choir+co-director+Lauren+Berryhill+joined+Centrals+staff+in+the+summer+of+2023.+
Photo Courtesty of Lauren Berryhill
Choir co-director Lauren Berryhill joined Central’s staff in the summer of 2023.

Central’s choir program has been led by a single director  for as long as choir co-director Kelly Mielcarz has been here. This all changed when the search for an additional choir teacher began in February 2023.

“We were given approval through the district for the board to add a second full-time choir director to help sustain the program we have in place and continue to help build it,” Mielcarz said.

Through a long process of board meetings, applications, screenings and interviews, a final candidate was selected, and in the summer of 2023, Lauren Berryhill was hired.

Having previously taught a cappella groups at Oak Grove and Glenbrook South high schools, amongst several others, Berryhill was excited to work full time at Naperville Central for the choir department.

“I’ve always wanted to teach high school and especially at a school that’s so great, like Naperville Central, and with such great support for the arts,” Berryhill said. “I just felt like it would be a really great place for me to keep learning but also work with some pretty incredible students and it’s lived up to the expectations.”

In her time at Central, Berryhill has brought new perspectives, ideas, and opportunities to the classroom, such as helping run optional choir technique classes, creating an Instagram account for the NCHS choirs, and starting Central’s vocal jazz ensemble, Off the Cuff.

But it’s not just Berryhill’s ideas that stand out in the classroom. The change in the climate of the classroom and Mielcarz’s personal teaching has also been noted from a student perspective.

Senior Lindsay Bellandi has been enrolled in choir for four years and has been taught by Mielcarz through challenges like COVID-19 during her freshman and sophomore year, and she has noticed the positive changes Berryhill has brought to the choir department.

“I think Berryhill has just made [Mielcarz] an even better teacher,” Bellandi said. “I think she’s just a lot happier and it’s really contributed to the atmosphere of the classroom. We’ve tackled harder repertoire and we’ve gotten more into sight reading and technique.”

In order to successfully teach a classroom through a partnership, there needs to be trust, understanding, and honesty between both parties. Berryhill and Mielcarz bring all those traits and more when teaching their classes.

“We are able to communicate really effectively when planning lessons and how we’re going to approach each class,” Mielcarz said. “We’re able to remember team teaching in the classroom; we’re not afraid of interjecting when the other is teaching to clarify or add on to something, and this has all happened authentically.”

Despite her short time at Central thus far, Berryhill has established herself and worked to make an impact in the school community.

“I walked in [to NCHS] having the experiences at all the other schools that I’ve worked at, and I was just prepared to absorb and learn and then contribute my light and my gifts,” Berryhill said. “It was also a lot of getting to know the humans around me and prioritizing them and their experience. I think that’s how I’ve come to feel like I’m a part of the community too.”

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