Special to The Sun
For some, the character trait of gentleness in the noun form is difficult to recognize in others — much less in ourselves. However, if you consider someone that shows both consideration and personal concern for others (compassion) as defining factors, you may come to the same conclusion that Edmond vocal music educator Shermie Potts did.
“Christy Fine is the most compassionate person I have ever known” wrote Potts. “She recognizes how people are feeling instinctively and gives thought to her most appropriate action toward them. She never acts out of ego or personal interest. Others’ feelings are of upmost importance. She empathizes and never judges.”
It’s difficult for Fine, she admitted, to tell how she displays the character of gentleness, but she is very compassionate and seems to sense when people need just a little extra TLC. “A gentle word of encouragement can literally change a young life,” says Fine. “If I can play just a small part in my students’ education and help them along their way in life I feel that I have been a success.”
Unfortunately she has had to deal with the untimely death of five students — some of them to illness and some to accident.
“Every incident has just torn my heart, it has not gotten easier,” exclaims Fine. But it has helped her as a teacher to see that each and every student is “a precious gift.”
“I see at times that every student carries a huge imaginary back pack on his or her backs and that bag is filled with all of their cares, worries, problems and successes. At times their pack is all tidy and zipped up tight when they enter my room — their lives are in order. Then there are times that their back pack is stuffed full and overflowing and they can’t seem to keep it zipped — they are struggling with life that I can’t even imagine; homework, struggles with friends, illness of a loved one, family problems. When they come in our classrooms we often have an expectation that our class is the most important thing in our kids’ lives — it is in our minds, when in actuality some kids may be at a breaking point. That’s when I try to communicate with the individual student that I care and that together we are going to get through what they might feel is a crisis.
“I have the unique opportunity to help shape this young life and have a small part in their education. Helping students experience the thrill of learning a musical instrument is such a treat — to see that young mind begin to see opportunities that can be theirs and to see their appreciation for music of all types grow. I love it when they struggle with a technique and finally are able to accomplish the musical idea.”
The benefits of Fine’s character is further expressed in Shermie Potts’ closing remarks: “In addition to serving a multitude of students as an orchestra teacher, she helps make our school environment peaceful and reduces the stress on fellow teachers and staff through her never-ending care of our spirits.”
“I think back to my teachers as I was growing up,” Fine reflected, “and would like to have my students think back on our time in the classroom together and hopefully remember a kind word and are confident that I cared deeply about them.”
Christy Fine studied clarinet with Dr. Jack Sisson at, then, Central State University; afterwards she made the natural transition to follow up her graduation to attend CSU on a Music Ed. scholarship.
It was there that she met her husband, and since then they both have called the Edmond area home during a 32-year music education teaching career together.
After teaching in Putnam City District for five years, said Fine, “I was hired here in Edmond to begin the Orchestra program at Summit Middle School when it opened 25 years ago. I then added Santa Fe to my schedule when it opened 20 years ago. I have seen the program grow from 21 students when we opened Santa Fe to three orchestras this year with almost one hundred and twenty students enrolled and over one hundred and sixty string students at Summit.”
As a result of Christy Fine’s character of gentleness, she was honored before the Edmond City Council on October 28, 2013, representing the Edmond community as a “Champion of Character.”
The Champions of Character recognition is sponsored by the Character Council of Edmond, a grassroots, non-profit organization committed to creating a citywide initiative to build Edmond into a “City of Character.” The group believes that the character of a nation can only be strengthened one person at a time, one community at a time.
Toward that end, the Character Council of Edmond seeks to recognize residents that demonstrate the character trait each month. A list of these monthly traits can be found on the organization’s website.
TO NOMINATE a resident as a “Champion of Character,” one who exemplifies these character traits, log on to www.edmondcharacter.org or write: Champions of Character, P.O. Box 392, Edmond OK 73083-0392.