A word from Supt. Quintin Shepherd of the Victoria I.S.D.

Closing Thoughts: Let your genius play

The following article is provided by Supt. Quintin Shepherd of the Victoria I.S.D.

Dr Quintin Shepherd

Quintin Shepherd, Supt. of the Victoria I.S.D.

I can still picture the radio cassette player that sat on top of our little spinet piano in the farmhouse where I grew up. As I have shared several times previously, I grew up rural poor during the farm crisis and my parents were amazing at giving us nearly everything we needed, but now as an adult, I recognize the astounding ways they stretched our resources to make ends meet. How we had a piano, I’ll never know.

In another somewhat humorous example of stretching resources, my older brother got to take piano lessons and I did not… at least at first. I think he hated the piano. I don’t ever remember him practicing and I recall he dreaded going to weekly lessons. I believe this went on for a few months. He would come home with the piano books, and I would ask him what he learned and then I would practice. What a strange way to learn the piano for both of us. Believe it or not, I even entered a recital, using his books, and without taking any lessons. When I scored better than he did, my parents quickly figured out which of us had the real interest in music and he was quickly benched so I could be put in and we were all much happier.

By high school, I was taking lessons many, many miles away from an instructor who had studied at Julliard School of Music. To be clear, I am not of this caliber as a performer. I tell you about Mrs. Van Norman because that’s the first person I recollect who used the word “genius” as part of her regular vocabulary. She would say things like, “oh, you have a genius for creating an emotion here.” Along the way, she realized that I could read music but also had a knack for playing music that wasn’t always written. It was a combination of playing what was written and playing by ear at the same time. I’ll never forget the lesson when she said, “let’s let your genius play so we can see what it can do.” She proceeded to turn around to the other piano in the room (she had two, and a full-sized church organ, but that’s a different story) and we just jammed. She was about 80 years old. I had no idea she could play jazz/blues. She would sit on a piano bench and her legs could swing without hitting the ground. She was my music teacher Yoda, to give you a visual. That lesson changed my life. When I say, “let your genius play” it is in honor of her.

I tell you that story because this week was pure joy when I had the opportunity to practice with the band prior to convocation (which took place on August 5) and of course, I’ve been thinking about the impact Mrs. Van Norman had on my life and the lives of countless others through me. I’ve played every year to help kick off the event to walk the talk so-to-speak when it comes to sharing your genius.

At Victoria ISD we are committed to helping every student (and staff member) discover their genius. We are committed to building pathways that allow students to learn their genius, chase their genius, and let their genius play. Genius at work is a wonderful thing, genius at play is the most beautiful thing a teacher (or parent) ever experiences

By Supt. Quintin Shepherd of the Victoria I.S.D.