Ms. Connie Wilcox (English, math) was on TV for the second time this summer. The show was Great Day Live, and she was playing piano with her 17-member jazz band, the Swing Street Big Band. “Most of the time I’m the only female, you know,” she said, smiling. “16 guys and me, and it’s a fun kind of music.”
Ms. Wilcox has always had a passion for music. While growing up on a farm in northeastern Kentucky, she would look forward to visiting her cousin’s house – and her piano. In fourth grade, she badgered her parents into giving her piano lessons, and after high school entered Morehead State University with a double major in mathematics and music.
But she never completed the music degree. Instead, Ms. Wilcox left Morehead to start a family, replacing her music major with English when she returned with the intention of becoming a teacher—which was what she had wanted to do all along. “I don’t remember wanting to do anything else besides teaching,” she said, “except being a concert pianist. Unfortunately, I lived on a farm, and there weren’t any producers or agents passing by my window to discover me as I practiced, so it’s pretty much always been teaching with me.”
But the love of music remained. Over the years, in addition to teaching in her degrees of math and English, Ms. Wilcox gave private lessons, played with her jazz band, and, most recently, taught music at the Kentucky School for the Blind.
Now, after a year of teaching part-time on white days, Ms. Wilcox occupies Room 25 in the YPAS Annex, teaching algebra, geometry, and sophomore English at the school her children attended in the 1990’s. While Ms. Kris Tatro (Math) is also certified in both math and English, Ms. Wilcox is currently the only teacher at Manual in both subjects.
Ms. Wilcox will still play with and write for the Swing Street Big Band, and the connection between her subjects and her music stays strong. “Math and English and music, to some degree, are all languages, and to some degree they’re all very formulaic,” she said. “You can see that easily about math. You can see that English is a language. But if you think about English, what’s a sentence? You have to have a noun, you have to have a verb—that’s a formula. And if you think about music, okay—you have to start in this key, you’re going to go to that key, it’s per measure, it has this chord structure, but there are similarities in all of them… so for me, the three go together very, very well.”
Accompanying the new school year were 11 new teachers in a range of magnets and academic departments. This story is part of a series about each of them.