Director of Fine Arts, Elementary & Intermediate School Music Teacher
Imagine a colorful, spacious classroom at Heritage Christian School, where sun spills through big windows. Conga drums, xylophones, keyboards and a well-used guitar adorn the room. No need here for desks and chairs that typify other elementary school rooms. Fourth graders cluster in circles on the floor, creating and clapping out rhythms and rhymes. Third graders crouch and jump, slink and glide around the room to the sounds of Mussorgsky's concerto. Throughout the week, Heritage prep-K through sixth grade students experience exceptional music instruction here, all wrapped up in big fun.
Welcome to the wonderful, musical world of Cathy Bartemus. For over 35 years, she has carefully orchestrated each component of her music classes to make learning experiential and meaningful for her young students. Don't be surprised to find her seated on the floor with the kids, singing, clapping and moving right along with them. Her hands-on approach resonates with her students. As she puts it, God has given her the gift of "kid speak."
She prays that music becomes a conduit for spiritual truth. "When kids come into my classroom," she says, "I want them to see God; to see His hand in the creativity, order and beauty of music. It's all for His glory." She often references Habakkuk 2:14: "The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea."
Bartemus credits long-time former Heritage principal Mary Jane English for helping to shape her perspective on teaching. "She always wanted us to keep Jesus in front of the kids," she shares. Bartemus keeps a photograph of her and English thumb-tacked to her bulletin board, in memory of her mentor and friend. "Mary Jane emphasized that the uniqueness of our faith rests in Jesus."
For Bartemus, her love for Jesus and her love for music make a great combination. "I love teaching at Heritage," she concludes. "I'm convinced that this is exactly what God wants me to do."