Christy Fine

Santa Fe High School 2019-20 Teacher of the Year Christy Fine helps Ellie Green, freshman violin, with the Chamber Orchestra as Brianna Brown looks on.

Santa Fe High School’s Teacher of the Year helped open the school 26 years ago.

Christy Fine teaches 9-12th grade Orchestra. She is a traveling teacher who also co-teaches at Summit and Heartland middle schools.

“I imagine students entering my room as having imaginary backpacks. Inside these backpacks are all of their dreams and the challenges they are facing,” Fine said.

She added most of the time their backpack is nice and tidy and zipped up tight, but on occasion some of their issues start poking out of the top, maybe an argument with Mom that morning, or they didn’t sleep well. 

“Maybe they don’t get to eat breakfast or they have a new sibling. Maybe a grandparent is ill or maybe their parents are having marital problems,” Fine said. “All of these life issues can get overwhelming.”  

She went on to say the students come to her class and she wants them to fit happily into her planned lesson and it just doesn't always work. 

“Sometimes, just sometimes we need to stop and address some of the issues that are spilling out of their backpack and then they can get back to their routine,” Fine said.

“So often they might need a granola bar to give them some energy, maybe they need a ride home on an icy day, maybe they need a jacket in order to stay warm on their walk to school.

“Maybe they need something for lunch or possibly they just need to sit down and talk to someone who actually cares,” Fine added.

“This is the hardest part of teaching — we teachers have an agenda we need to follow, a time-line of when tests need to be given and scores reached,” Fine said.

“Sometimes a student is just not there yet and we need to be able to recognize and have the intuition of what to do next.”  

 

INCLUSIVE ENVIRONMENT

Fine tries to have a very inclusive environment in her classroom.  “Students who have strengths in the arts often think outside of the box as they find success,” Fine said.  

“We have Super Wolves in our classroom during the first two hours of our day. With all of these special kids’ challenges, I hope that we add a respite and they can enjoy watching us make music.”

Fine added she hopes by having these students in the room she and her students can take down some of the fences that surround students with physical challenges and her students can learn to share and communicate.

“Prior to my present schedule I started the program at Summit 31 years ago, and then taught at Summit and Santa Fe until the numbers grew to where we have a teacher at all three schools in our vertical,” Fine said.

This is her 36th year teaching and before coming to Edmond she taught band in the Putnam City District.

She received her Bachelors of Music Education from then Central State University, which is now the University of Central Oklahoma.

Fine began her career with the Putnam City School District. She and her husband, Joe were living in Edmond where her husband was teaching. They have been married for 38 years this month.

“Upon having our oldest child, who is now 30, I sought a teaching job that would be closer to our home,” Fine said. “That was the year that Edmond opened Summit Middle School.”

She and her husband have two boys, Derek and Aaron, who both went through Edmond Schools: Washington Irving, Summit and Santa Fe.  

“Our eldest son, Derek is married to Amy, who is a teacher at Heartland and they have two children, Elijah and Cora.

She previously had been a band director but upon her move to Edmond she switched to teaching strings.   

Fine teaches four leveled classes of Orchestra at Santa Fe while co-teaching at Summit and Heartland. 

Fine said that from an early age she had the desire to be a teacher, but she was not certain of which subject until she was in high school.  

“Christy Fine has been a part of Santa Fe High School for many years and during that time has established one of the most accomplished and successful orchestra programs in Oklahoma,” said Santa Fe Principal Jason Hayes. “She has achieved this level of excellence by building outstanding relationships with her students, by working to make continuous improvement in her program over time, and by staying in the moment and teaching students how to be better musicians each day with every new note that they play. 

'When I am able to watch her four orchestras perform, I am constantly bombarded with compliments of how incredible they sound. Many schools in Oklahoma do not have an orchestra at all. Of the ones that do, most are fortunate to have one orchestra that is considered good. At Santa Fe, all four of our orchestras are annually rated as high-performing in competition. We are truly blessed to have Christy Fine as our Santa Fe Teacher of the Year for 2019-20.”  

 

MUSICAL INFLUENCES

Fine said that from an early age she had the desire to be a teacher, but she was not certain of which subject until she was in high school.  

 

She had many important influences in her life that helped her with her education and teaching music.

“In college I had several professors who had a big influence on my career choice, several that stand out are Dr. Jack Sisson,” Fine said. 

He was her clarinet and saxophone teacher, and another influencer had been an educator in public schools.

“Dr. Kent Kidwell was our band director and had been a former public school teacher and Dr. Mel Lee was one of our professors and also a former public school teacher,” Fine said.

Growing up in Cashion, Fine said she had several band and choir directors over the years and they encouraged her toward success. They include Bob Scott, Robert Pratt and Chris DiGiovanni.

“My parents were very supportive of my path toward education,” Fine said, “and I was the first of my family to pursue a degree in college.”

She added that she believes education is important for students today.

“It seems the world is changing so quickly and expectations are so high for students just now pursuing a career,” Fine said. “I feel that it is so important for students to work toward and experience success.”

Music education is important for her students but Fine added she would like to see her students form an appreciation for the arts and to be able to listen or perform a piece of music while finding the beauty in it.

To find the satisfaction of success by working together, finding each other’s strengths and weaknesses and working together toward an end is important to Fine.  

She added she wants her students to have the satisfaction of performing and giving pleasure to the audience, and to see others as humans, not perfect but with so many good aspects.  

Fine said she has learned patience from her students and that there are so many different ways that students learn.

“Just because someone doesn’t catch the point on the first try it doesn’t mean that they aren’t going to be successful in the long run,” Fine said.  

“I have so much compassion for my students. I have learned that sometimes what I am trying to teach them on a particular day isn’t the most important thing in their life.”

She added that sometimes they are having life experiences way beyond their years and that she needs to be aware that on occasion they need to have a break and sometimes a listening ear. 

Fine added she has lost many students over her teaching career.  “Each loss was devastating for me but one particular family called me to the hospital as they were gathered in the family room,” Fine said. 

“I was greeted like an honored guest. This particular student was not particularly talented but she worked hard and always had a great attitude,” Fine said. “Her achievements were on the coattails of others.”

Having this student in her class helped Fine realize that every single student of hers is important to the group. 

“Her dedication to the group has helped me to see the importance of not giving up on students who may not be as talented as others,” Fine said.  

In her spare time Fine said she loves to bake pies and would love to have a career in pie baking in the future. She loves to pick fruits and make jams and jellies and loves to read. 

Her favorite pastime is spending time with her family.

“Our two grandchildren bring me much joy,” Fine said. 

She and her husband attend church in Edmond at The Well, a non-denominational Christian Church formerly named Edmond Christian Church where they have attended for the past 35 years. She is active in the Ladies Bible Study.

She a member of Oklahoma Educators Association, National Educators Association, Music Educator National Association, Oklahoma Music Educators Association, and Music Adjudicators Association.

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