Changing the Rhythm

Paige Lee ‘22 helps make sure all students have access to music.
Paige Lee in an instrument repair shop

An eye-opening volunteer experience in the Rochester City School District made music education major Paige Lee ‘22 start to see herself as a changemaker. As part of her capstone project for Nazareth’s honors program, she volunteered at an instrument repair shop at Edison Career and Technology High School, which provides instruments at no charge to students who would have trouble getting them otherwise. She also observed music teachers teaching online and engaged with students in Zoom breakout rooms. Paige, who plays the piano, violin, and clarinet, helped students read music and learn the notes and the fingerings of the instruments.

“I really just learned about the amazing things that are going on in the Rochester City School District,” said Paige. “The kids are amazing and the teachers care so much about what they do.  It was an eye-opening experience to what so many people are doing in the district to make music possible.”

Paige’s capstone mentor, Keith Koster, Ph.D., recommended that she reach out to Naz alum Dominic Pickard ‘04, ‘07G, who is the director of arts in the city school district. Pickard put her in contact with Alison Schmitt, who manages the repair shop.

How Paige defines a changemaker:

“Someone who is active in their community and is active in social justice. They take a stand against issues that need to be solved.”

Paige believes music advocacy and education equity are essential to creating change. That’s part of what led Paige to the Rochester schools. She believes every student, in every school district, deserves to be supported. “I want to be someone else they can trust,” said Paige. “I want to be another face in the community outside of school that is invested in their success.”

Paige discovered her love of teaching when she began tutoring in high school.

“I love the experiences of tutoring the younger students and connecting with them and seeing their progress,” said Paige. “I learned how they can help me in return, [to see] how I can be a better teacher, how I can make my lessons easier to understand and how you learn things about yourself.”

Community service has been a key part of Paige’s experience at Naz.

  • Through Partners for Learning, Paige serves on the leadership team as a site coordinator to manage communication between Nazareth College and the Charles Carroll Elementary School No. 46 in Rochester.
  • Paige also mentors and tutors young students in the city school district.
  • She mentors incoming Nazareth first-year students by assisting with preparation for college over the summer, navigating orientation, and accessing services and resources at Nazareth through the College’s Big/Little Flyers Program. Paige recently was awarded a President’s Civic Engagement student award.

Paige learned about ways she could get involved by talking to her career coach, her professors, and other faculty and staff in the Center for Civic Engagement.

Paige says no matter what happens next for her, she knows that being a teacher is her life’s work. “I think that being a teacher is an important job because you can have a positive impact on students' lives,” said Paige. “My philosophy is I want my students to have a positive experience in music and know that it's something you can always turn to.”