Claggett Creek Middle School's new choir director, Sandra Krause, leads campers in rehearsals for their final performance at McNary High School in July. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Claggett Creek Middle School’s new choir director, Sandra Krause, leads campers in rehearsals for their final performance at McNary High School in July. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Sandra Krause breathed a sigh of relief when admissions officers at a naval academy rejected her application.

“It was like being on the edge of a cliff,” Krause said. “They turned me down, but it meant I could pursue what was in my heart and soul, which was teaching music.”

When Krause takes to the podium as the new choir director at Claggett Creek Middle School this fall, she’ll bring with her a wealth of experience in addition to a passion for teaching.

“I’ve played in a country and western band, a Top 40 band and I sang in a rock band and jazz combos. Then I was in musical theater. I dabble in piano still in lounges. I’ve taught guitar, too. I’ve done everything except R&B,” said Krause.

She started her teaching career 25 years ago in Seattle and eventually landed in Utah where she’ll be spending the next month packing up her family for the move to the Salem area. She was in town two weeks ago to help with the annual McNary Area Choir and Drama Camp.

Despite the depth and breadth of her musical forays, Krause said she had never experienced anything like interviewing for the job at Claggett Creek.

“The first day I did my demo and then came and did the interview, it was like, ‘Welcome to the family.’” The investment in the choir students in this district is so immense. It’s evident in the way they breathe and talk about music,” she said.

Krause’s interest in music began at her mother’s elbow. Krause followed the movements of her mother’s hands across the keys while she was learning piano. When she finally had the option to choose her own instrument, Krause opted for the violin. She made a switch to choir after moving to a school with no strings program and never looked back.

While she started out teaching high school students, the mother of three – Robin, Carson and Logan – soon found a new place in her hearts for middle school students.

“It’s a special time for children. They are so open to new things and new ideas. To give music to any child at any age is a magical gift, but especially so during a time when their whole world is somewhat changing,” Krause said.

Most teachers will tell you that the learning in any classroom goes both ways, but Krause said the lessons of laughter and perseverance were the most powerful.

“They’ve taught me that I can laugh at any time because that, sometimes, is the only thing that can get you through. They know that because their lives are full of turmoil and defeat and issues of self-confidence and they persevere through all those things. It’s a lesson of ‘Wow.’ The more they give that to me, the more I can give it back to them,” she said.