For more than 30 years, Splendora ISD elementary students have been learning music from teacher Laura Andrews. As the music teacher at Piney Woods Elementary School, this year marks the beginning of Ms. Andrews’ 31st year. She sees each kindergarten – fifth grade class once a week.
Recalling a recent memory, she said, “We were singing about turkeys and Thanksgiving and as I was looking at their sweet, little faces, it struck me how many of them were children of students I have taught. So, I counted, and there were 11 (one was absent) out of Mrs. Smith’s class of 19.”
Andrews lovingly refers to these second-generation children as her “grand-students” because she taught either one or both of their parents.
As you can imagine, after 30 years of teaching music, Andrews has some stories to tell.
When asked, the music teacher replied, “There are so many memorable moments. I guess one would be the year I spent pushing my mobile classroom cart going from room to room. It’s when they were adding on to Splendora Elementary. Dale Martin (PE teacher at the time) kept hiding my cart from me.”
Another unforgettable moment was after Tropical Storm Allison.
“Students were sent home early, but a lot of parents couldn’t get to the school. So I stayed late with Principal Janet Thompson and a few other teachers until all of the kids were picked up. The power was out and we sang songs and played bingo for hours!” she said. “All of the music programs where students perform have been memorable. We usually put on 4-5 shows a year, one per grade level. The smiles and looks of pride and accomplishment on the kiddos’ faces are the best thing ever. I can close my eyes and still see Kenneth Kennedy as Frosty the Snowman, John Sullivan as Santa, Bubba Carnline as Doc (one of the seven dwarves), and Lance Holifield as Freddy the Frog, just to name a few. I even have a picture of Bay Rollins Hill dressed up as a duck in a yellow trash bag.”
In addition to the memories have come a lot of accomplishments. Andrews started a choir when Splendora Elementary became Peach Creek Elementary and then continued it when she went to Piney Woods Elementary. The choir has grown from about 30 students to more than 100. She has taken the elementary choirs to perform and compete throughout the area and local community. Her choirs have won 1st division ratings many times at various contests.
Andrews has coached countless UIL Music Memory teams with multiple individuals and teams receiving first, second and third place rankings.
“One year, four of my 3rd graders all tied for first place with perfect scores – talk about a dream team,” said Andrews.
Most of Andrews’ family has moved away from the Splendora area, but the music teacher stays here to continue her legacy.
“I love my job in Splendora so much that I chose to stay here. Being a part of this community and this school and being here long enough to have the kids of my kids in my class, they have become my family. I don’t know what it is, but I just belong here. Thank you, Janet Thompson, for bringing me here. I’m just a simple music teacher, but I am super proud of my work here and can’t imagine teaching anything else or anywhere else,” she said.