OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s a Wednesday morning, and the children are having their morning snack. A figure walks in, sporting a graphic print sweatshirt, gold sneakers, and a warm engaging smile. The faces around the tables light up like they’ve just spotted a celebrity (as indeed they have!), thrilled that once again Miss Lavenia is here to share her morning with them.

One of the unique things that Grace has to offer is our fantastic music program, led three times a week by our very own Lavenia Black. Who is this woman who has brought a love of music to so many kids over the years? I scored an interview with her (not an easy feat with her crazy busy schedule!) to find out more:

Lavenia started piano lessons in fourth grade, while her family was living in Durham. She liked the piano from the very beginning – she never had to be persuaded to practice! In addition to the piano, she can also play the ukulele (self- taught, after receiving one as a gift from her brother) and she likes to have fun on the drums. She started giving piano lessons while she was in high school, when her music teacher asked her to take on some beginning students. In college, she took her love of music and teaching with her, where she majored in General Elementary Education and Music. Lavenia has always been a teacher, giving music lessons, leading Sunday School, and working in a public school classroom. When her grandchildren started attending Grace, she began leading music here, and we’ve held on to her ever since!

A typical day for Lavenia starts early in the morning – she leaves her house at 5:45 am on her razor scooter (we are to be reassured that there is a headlight on it for the darker winter hours) and heads down the road to her daughter Beth’s house. There she helps to feed the dog, cats, chinchilla and chickens, and when she’s done she heads inside for a cup of hot Peet’s coffee and a yummy breakfast, made by Beth. She heads back home to prepare for her first music lessons of the day, which start at 8 am. (Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays of course, her morning also includes time with our children at school!). Mid-day Lavenia heads back to Beth’s, picks up the dog, and brings it back to her house to join the students at her afternoon music lessons. Afternoon lessons usually go from 2 – 8 pm. (Did I mention she teaches 6 days a week?!). In the evening, she hops back on her razor, heads to Beth’s, rests on the couch and pets the cat (good for blood pressure), has dinner, and then scoots back home for the night.

Many of you know Lavenia loves animals, and has 3 goats: Elvis, Dolly and Dixie (a special request for her 80th birthday, in lieu of a party). She likes to be in the garden, and has many squirrels, birds and a feral cat who come out to join her. Her stylists are her grandchildren, who pass on their clothes and shoes to her – Lavenia likes being comfy, and she rocks those skater shoes well! Her favorite kind of music is a small quintet or quartet of instruments, playing Beethoven, Mozart or Hayden (who she notes is great for kids, because of the melodies). Her favorite request at singing time? “Skidamarink”. One she’d be ok not hearing for a while? “The Elephant Song”.

Thank you, Miss Lavenia, for all that you do for our school!

– Frith O’Steen, Parent (T/Th class)

We love Miss Lavenia, and so does everyone else! Grace Preschool’s beloved music teacher, Miss Lavenia, will be honored for her dedication to the Grace community on Sunday, March 23rd during the morning church service and the following fellowship gathering at Grace Presbyterian. Miss Lavenia works weekly with all three of the preschool classes, teaching singing to the T/Th class and singing and rhythm band to the MWF and M-Th classes. The children love her enthusiasm, energy and patience! Church service is from 10 – 11 am, with refreshments served in the Fellowship Lounge from 11 – 11:30 am. All are welcome – if you are a fan of Miss Lavenia, here is a wonderful time to come share the love! 1383018_10203077753600509_1460366398_n