Archive for Thursday, November 4, 2004

A musical gift

Lansing teacher brings love of music to the classroom

November 4, 2004

— Ryan Rothmeyer finds teaching music to be challenging.

"You have to be active every minute," said Rothmeyer, who teaches kindergartners through third-graders at Lansing Elementary School. "It's not like I'm sitting at a desk doing paperwork all day long."

Video

Lansing Elementary School second graders perform "It's a jungle out there" at the school gymnasium on Thursday, Nov. 4. Enlarge video

But teaching isn't the only outlet for his love of music. Rothmeyer not only talks the talk. He's also walked the walk, playing in bands and writing his own songs.

Rothmeyer said his older siblings introduced him to music. As he was growing up, they listened to a variety of music, ranging from rhythm and blues masters Earth, Wind and Fire to rock hall-of-famers Led-Zeppelin. He traces his passion for music to when he was in first grade and went to his first concert. The band was KISS, the Kabuki-costumed rockers.

"I thought they looked cool, and I loved the drums and guitars," Ryan said.

Ryan remembers when his parents bought him his first drum set from Sears in the sixth grade.

"I plugged in records and just started playing," Ryan said. He was in high school when he started playing in his first rock band, Mortal Grain, in Kansas City.

But he's gone beyond rock in the past 10 years, playing different types of music with several different bands.

While studying music education at Baker University, he started playing more guitar, writing and composing his own music. He has performed at places such as the New Orleans Jazz Festival, Chicago Jazz Festival and Kansas City's Spirit Festival.

Andrea Rothmeyer, who teaches kindergarten at the school, said her husband's involvement with bands did not interfere with time with his family or work. Being in bands is, Andrea said, Ryan's only hobby.

"I know it makes him happy," Andrea said. "He doesn't watch a lot of TV or hunt or fish the way a lot of guys do."

Both came to Lansing Elementary School six years ago. Andrea was teaching at a middle school in Kansas City when she and Ryan started dating. He was student teaching at Lansing when Andrea's sister, Sherri Schwanz, who teaches choir at Lansing Middle School, introduced them.

Now Ryan and Andrea have two children, Nicolas, 2, and Rachel Ann Marie, who is a newborn.

Ryan said having children greatly benefited his work in the classroom because it helped him to understand how kids worked, especially their quirks. The Rothmeyers make their home in Leavenworth, where Ryan grew up. Ryan graduated from Leavenworth High School. He attended Kansas City Kansas Community College before he transferred to Baker University in Baldwin City.

As soon as he began teaching in the elementary school, Ryan said he knew immediately was where he wanted to be.

"It's like kids this age have a clean slate," Ryan said. "I liked how much fun they had and getting the chance to turn them on to music.

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