Stephen Sondheim celebrates a energy of teachers


Mo Rocca meets a Broadway low-pitched fable who helps respect classroom legends:

“Oscar Hammerstein was a clergyman of mine; we was 11, 12 years old. He arrange of stabilized me by training me what we wanted to learn about essay songs,” pronounced Stephen Sondheim.


Composer Stephen Sondheim. The Broadway low-pitched fable helps respect classroom legends: teachers whose motivation, toughness and support have altered a lives of their students.

Yes, a biggest vital author of Broadway musicals was taught by a mythological Oscar Hammerstein, of Rodgers Hammerstein.

Just before he died, Hammerstein stamped a sketch to Sondheim: “And he sealed it, ‘For Stevie, my crony and teacher.'”

Sondheim wrote a lyrics to “West Side Story” when he was usually 25, and after on, to “Gypsy” — and a words and song to shows that have pushed a bounds of low-pitched museum for decades.

But on this visit, Rocca didn’t plead musicals; they talked teachers.

“Teachers are so underpaid; since else are they teaching? They have to adore it,” pronounced Sondheim.

Careful a things we say
Children will listen
Careful a things we do
Children will see and learn
Children might not obey, but
Children will listen
Children will demeanour to we for that proceed to turn
To learn what to be

The male who wrote “Children Will Listen” for “Into The Woods” says training is a dedicated profession.

“Everybody takes teachers for postulated since everybody goes to school,” he said. “And we consider not adequate suspicion is given to how most teachers do, and how tough they work. A clergyman can make we feel some-more wanted than your parents, if your relatives are indifferent kinds of parents.”

For a past 8 years, a John F. Kennedy Center for a Performing Arts has given a dozen or so educators a Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award.  Entertainment profession Freddie Gershon and his wife, Myrna, saved a endowment in Sondheim’s honor. Each desirous clergyman receives $10,000.

Far from a lights of Broadway, nestled in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains, is Gatlinburg-Pittman High School.


Honors English clergyman Tracey Rains in her classroom in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Tracey Rains, a 2015 Sondheim Inspirational Teacher, has been walking these halls for a prolonged time – it’s her aged alma mater. This honors English clergyman has a repute for being tough.

A quote on her blackboard reads: “The kites fly top opposite a wind, not with it.”

“That’s Winston Churchill,” pronounced Rains. “You contingency onslaught or we will never rise. You will stay during accurately a turn that we start at.”


Teacher Tracey Rains.

“And you’re fine emphasizing a struggle?” asked Rocca.

“Yes, we am. It is a struggle. And we try to get that by to them.”

Fourteen years ago, she got by to Chelsea Hayes.

She removed bringing her work to her teacher: “‘Ms. Rains, we wrote this sentence.  Is this good enough?’ And she said, ‘Well, it can be better.’ And we said, ‘Well, I’m not certain how to make it better.’ And she said, ‘Well. Let’s consider by this.'”

“I’m perplexing to get a clarity of accurately what kind of tough she is,” Rocca said. “Is she sorta Simon Cowell tough?”

“She has a bent to come off really brief if you’re complaining,” Hayes laughed, “or if we consider we can't do something.  Because her faith is if we consider we can’t do it, you’re not going to do it.”

Rains said, “I consider that proceed that says, ‘We need to make everybody feel good,’ during a responsibility of honest accomplishment, indeed diminishes students’ self-esteem. I’ve told students, ‘When we tell we to do this again and again, we should see that as a compliment, since it means we know we can do this better.'”


Sondheim’s Latin clergyman Lucille Pollack.

When Stephen Sondheim wanted to do improved in ninth category Latin, he approached his possess inspirational teacher: “Her name was Lucille Pollack, and after a initial class, where she was articulate about nouns and adverbs and adjectives, we satisfied we had no thought what she was articulate about.

“So we went to her and said, ‘Would we tell me?’;’ And we spent one of those afternoons that opens adult a skies. By a finish of that afternoon — I’m not exaggerating — we was already 3 weeks forward of a class. we mean, she taught me so much.”

Chelsea Hayes had worse challenges. She was lifted by her mother, who struggled to make ends meet. At one indicate her family was fed from a food bank. “All we knew was, we had to keep a house,” Hayes said. “We had to make a residence remuneration since we had nowhere else to go.”

Hayes pronounced she knew that preparation was her usually proceed out. She visited Ms. Rains before propagandize started, during lunch, and after school.  


Chelsea Hayes with her coach Tracey Rains.

Then, after Chelsea’s mom was left confined from a automobile accident, Tracey Rains and her husband, Carl, filled in.

“I fundamentally have dual moms,” Chelsea laughed. “And that’s usually how it’s been. And so my mother’s really thankful.”

Rocca asked, “Did it feel for we and your father like we had a child now?”

“Oh, definitely,” Rains replied. “I don’t have a child of my possess who isn’t Chelsea. But we know that we couldn’t adore a child some-more than we do Chelsea.”


Tracey and Carl Rains attending Chelsea’s graduation from a University of Kentucky College of Law.

All these years later, Tracey Rains has continued to coach Chelsea. Tracey was there when Chelsea graduated as high propagandize valedictorian. She and Carl were also there during her graduation from Duke University — and from a University of Kentucky College of Law.  

Because of all of that support, Chelsea nominated her favorite clergyman for a Sondheim Inspirational Award — and a $10,000 esteem that goes with it.

When Rocca asked what she would do with a money, Rains replied, in part, she would compensate for Chelsea’s bar exam.

When told this, Sondheim responded: “Oh my God. we mean, don’t make me cry on camera! Talk about selflessness. Gee whiz. That’s what a good clergyman is.”

For some-more info:

  • The Kennedy Center-Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards | Nominate a teacher
  • Logophiles Unleashed: Tracey Rains (
  • Chelsea Hayes’ assignment of Tracey Rains for a Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award (pdf)
  • Chelsea Hayes, Baker Donelson

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