I can still remember being a nervous eighth grader, auditioning for the Pop Choir, and trying to sight-read a piece of music for Alicyn Ehrich. That’s right, I am one of thousands of choral students that learned from Alicyn Ehrich in her tenure at Brookfield High School. Now, after 30 years on the job, Mrs. Ehrich is handing off her baton and will enjoy the retirement she has worked so hard for.
Alicyn Ehrich graduated from Northwestern High School at Mendon and attended the University of Missouri. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in 1982. From there, she was hired at Linn County R-1 where she taught for 10 years. Alicyn attained her Master’s Degree from what is now Truman State University in 1987.
“I enjoyed each of the 10 years that I spent at Linn County and the opportunity to teach some of the children of those students in the last few years,” said Ehrich. “That first year I was blessed with the opportunity to teach some very talented young ladies and gentlemen, and I taught with some wonderful people during those times. I am very proud to now call many of those teachers, staff and students my friends, and I wouldn’t have traded my years at Linn County for anything.”
But a call from Dr. Ted Davis of Brookfield R-3, combined with a desire to work closer to home, brought Alicyn Ehrich to Brookfield in 1993.
“When I received the phone call from Dr. Davis in the summer of 1993 that the elementary teaching position in Brookfield was open, it was a very hard to leave R-1,” admitted Ehrich. “I had attended the Missouri Music Educators Conference with Sondra Johnson several times, and knew what a great program she had at Brookfield Elementary.”
While she started as the Elementary Music Teacher, Mrs. Ehrich would climb the ranks, and eventually would take over for the legendary Jane Chick as the High School Conductor.
“There are three fellow music teachers to whom I am very grateful, the first being Ida Mae Wombwell,” began Ehrich. “Ida Mae stepped in and substituted for me at Linn County R-I after both of my oldest sons were born. Jane Chick then welcomed me into my current position as choir director at Brookfield in 1994. She served as my mentor, my accompanist and my head cheerleader, supporting both me and our program every step of the way. Then in the fall of 2006, Joyce Markle substituted the entire second quarter of that school year upon the arrival of our youngest. Each of these ladies have been an inspiration to me, and I so admire and appreciate them all.”
Ehrich continued: “I have been so blessed through the years to have tremendous support from parents, fellow teachers and administrators, but I am particularly grateful to two others who have played a tremendous role of support for my program through the years, and that is my accompanist, Suzan Stephenson and our Maintenance Director, Farron McCollum. Along with the blessing of having so many talented students throughout the years, these two special people are among those that have enhanced many of our performances through the years, and I owe them a great debt of gratitude.”
Page 2 of 2 - Alicyn Ehrich always enjoyed music, and knew that her life would be spent creating and enjoying it. An early decision in college shaped just how she would impact the art of music as a whole.
“When I first went to college, I had big aspirations of majoring in Music Performance,” said Ehrich. “But then I realized that what I really loved about music was creating it with other people, so why not help that become a reality for future generations. You know there is an old saying that ‘those who can - do, and those who can’t - teach.’ Well, I don’t know how much value I give to that thought process, but if that’s how some people look upon music educators, then so be it - that’s who I am! I have absolutely loved teaching young people to perform to the best of their ability and wouldn’t trade my career as an educator for anything in the world.”
Through the course of her career at BHS, Alicyn Ehrich has taught thousands of choral students. She has led 19 ensembles and 41 soloists, involving 137 students (including me a couple of times) to qualify for the State Music Festival in Columbia.
“Seeing the excitement on the faces of the students that have worked so hard to receive that “I” rating at districts and then many times also at state has been an extremely rewarding experience for my students,” said Ehrich. “I have had the joy of experiencing that satisfaction along with them. But quite honestly, most of my greatest memories are when I help students who have really struggled with singing, find “their voice”! I know it is really difficult for a lot of people to understand, but it is so exciting to be next to a student who goes from matching just a few notes in a very narrow range, to being able to sing a solo in a concert - it’s truly exhilarating!”