Our Faculty

Dean Beckman

Dean Beckman

Mr. Beckman has been teaching music in the Decorah Community School District for 29 years.  He teaches vocal and general music to students in grades 5 through 8 at Decorah Middle School.  Mr. Beckman enjoys teaching four large projects in addition to concerts:  many students audition for the Opus Honor Choirs; the entire sixth grade presents a musical; the 7th and 8th grade choruses present a Pops Concert; and approximately 30 students from 7th and 8th grades sing solos at the Waverly-Shell Rock Solo/Ensemble Festival.

Mr. Beckman is excited by all the music scholarship dollars that the Music Boosters give to students who participate in summer music camps.  He is grateful for the new piano and the keyboards the Music Boosters have put in the middle school classrooms.


Matthew Cody

Matthew Cody

Mr. Cody is involved with the 7th Grade Band, High School Symphonic Band, Jazz 1, and teaches lessons for 5th through 12th grade students.

When asked what he enjoys most about his job, Mr. Cody said “The cliche’, yet truthful, answer to this question is without a doubt seeing the development in the students.  As the band department is vertically aligned, that is to say all the district band directors essentially teach 5-12 grades, this allows us to see development in students from the beginning to graduation.  It is fun to watch students become more and more confident musically as the years go by. It’s also neat to see the students who may have had a struggle with their instrument in the beginning have so much success by the time they graduate high school.  However, a more thoughtful and slightly more philosophical answer to the question of what I enjoy most about my position would be  the notion that the arts creates humanity.  In a world of screens, standardized tests, and an overall environment where the pressure to be successful can be so high, students forget to realize that their human side needs nurturing and development. What I enjoy most about my job is teaching students to be human. Recognize beauty. The ability to feel sensitivity, love, compassion, and goodness in the world.  Helping them realize that a prosperous living means nothing unless they know how to live.”

“The Decorah Music Boosters are instrumental in helping the band department organize and run the Tri State Middle School Honor Band each year.  This event brings in some extra funding, but more than that, it has been a wonderful experience for students in the Tri State area”, says Cody.


Dustin Bliven

Dustin Blevins

Mr Bliven is currently in his 15th year of teaching.  He teaches the Decorah High School – Wind Ensemble, The Pride of the Vikings Marching Band, Jazz II, Co-directs the Pep Band, Middle School – 8th grade band, and 5th through 12th grade lessons.  When asked what he enjoys most about his job Mr. Bliven points out the performances because after each one the students are proud of what they have accomplished.  Then at the very next rehearsal you can hear them talk about what they are going to do better for the next performance.  These students are always eager to learn and perform better at each performance throughout the year from Marching Band to Concert Band.

The Music Boosters have been a wonderful supporter of our program from helping out at events and concerts to helping fund so many of the things we need throughout the school year.  Without the Music Boosters and parents this program would not be as successful.


Nicole Cody

Nicole Cody

Mrs. Cody is in her 8th year of teaching 9 – 12 grade Orchestra and Music Theory at Decorah High School.  Mrs. Cody enjoys watching the students exceed their perception of their own potential.  Experiencing them performing at their final concerts always makes her so proud!

When asked how Music Boosters supports her program, Mrs. Cody said, “Music Boosters have been a strong supporter of the programs here through actions, materials, and assistance.  Many of the concrete things that I use were donated by the boosters such as recording equipment and sound systems.  Each year they help pay for guest clinicians to work with the orchestra, which is a huge benefit to the program and in 2011 they brought Julie Lyonn Lieberman to work with our 5 – 12 string students on alternative style playing.


Andrew Ellingsen

Andrew Ellingsen

Mr. Ellingson is the K-2 music teacher at John Cline Elementary and is in his 14th year teaching music to elementary students.  He also works as an Instructional Coach in the Decorah Community School District.  Mr. Ellingson loves that he gets to help kids discover the joy of making music – finding their singing voice, discovering the ability to move to the steady beat, and using notation to write down their own musical ideas.

When asked how Music Boosters supports his program, Mr. Ellingson said, “Decorah Music Boosters have been incredibly supportive of elementary music in Decorah.  From purchasing drums and xylophones to supporting professional development, our music classroom is impacted by their work every day!”


Emily (Hahn) Larson

Emily Hahn

Ms. Larson teaches 5th and 6th grade band and 5th through 12th grade band lessons at Decorah Community Schools.  She is in her 12th year of teaching.  Ms. Larson loves working with the musician’s every day.  The energy and inquisitively exuded daily inspires her to teach.  Watching and hearing them grow into successful artists is a bonus, especially at the beginning level.  “I believe anyone can learn to play an instrument if they put their mind to it.”

When asked what Music Boosters has done for her, Ms. Larson responded, “They’ve worked diligently to help us achieve our goals and support the needs of our students.  Music Boosters paid for 15 music stands, which were desperately needed due to our vigorously growing band department.”


 Jennifer Larson

Jennifer Larson

Mrs. Larson teaches 5th through 8th grade orchestra at the middle school.  She is in her 23rd year of teaching music, 16 of those years in Decorah.  Mrs. Larson enjoys teaching students in small group lessons because it allows her to work with the students on a more personal level and develop relationships that last beyond the middle school years.

Music Boosters have supported the middle school orchestra students with scholarships to attend music camp, music stands and speakers for the classroom, and helped fund a residency for a specialist in eclectic styles and creative musicianship.


Jason F. Rausch

Jason F. Rausch

Mr. Rausch has been teaching for 17 years with 10 of those years here in Decorah teaching 9th – 12th grade vocal music.  He enjoys seeing students grow and develop as independent musicians so they can be life-long producers and consumers of music.

“I am grateful for the Music Boosters eagerness to support music education in the Decorah Community School District.  Because of them, we have been able to purchase quality equipment for our students to use and to work with outstanding clinicians,” commented Mr. Rausch

 

 


Sarah Zbornik

Sarah Zbornik

Ms. Zbornik has been teaching for the past 18 years working with 3rd and 4th grade music and is also an  instructional coach.  What Ms. Zbornik enjoys the most about her job is seeing the light bulb light up above the kid’s heads.

Music Boosters have helped purchase Orff instruments for her classroom so every student has an instrument to play.