Sehome chamber orchestra classroom

The 2021-22 school year began in-person, a big relief to all classrooms, but especially to our band, orchestra and choir classrooms across Bellingham Public Schools. Teaching music remotely had its challenges since most sound is delayed in virtual settings and the ability to play together was lost.

According to orchestra teacher Kirstin Doud at Sehome High School, during remote instruction many music teachers in the district used the platform called Flipgrid “to check in with students on their playing and singing.” They also used Zoom breakout rooms for individual feedback, but the ability to connect and listen to each other as they played was not possible.

Eventually last school year, small groups at the high school level were allowed to meet, and at that point, small groups came to school and played and sang together. “Students were so excited to hear other parts and be able to play together as a group,” Doud said.

Many school music groups have also returned to in-person concerts this fall following COVID protocols with the audience wearing masks, sitting in family groups at least three feet apart.

“Concerts are so important to our instruction,” Doud continued. “They give students an opportunity to show what they have learned over the past weeks and give them a goal in which they must be ready to perform their music.”

Spotlight on music staff

Several new teachers have joined the music staff at the middle and high school level. They include Connie Campbell at Bellingham High School, Pearl Petaia at Kulshan Middle School, Donald Rose at Sehome High School and Laura Williams at Fairhaven Middle School.

Veteran teachers Rose and Campbell shared a little bit of information about themselves and their music education backgrounds in the following question and answer interview.

Donald (Donny) Rose:

What is your past experience teaching?

I taught high school band (and a little choir) for 27 years in the Tacoma area, finishing my time at Curtis High School. I loved it and planned to retire there but had a chance to work at a choral nonprofit called The Barbershop Harmony Society in Nashville in 2014. It was really fun and gave me the chance to travel a lot in and outside of the country. Adults need music as much as kids need music!  It was also fun to do some studio work. Then COVID blew everything up.

What brought you to Bellingham?

I wanted to teach in the same district as my daughter, Sarah Rose, a Kindergarten teacher at Alderwood. I had student-taught at Bellingham High School in 1985 and always hoped to return. Fun fact, I did some jazz gigs with retired orchestra director Mark Schlichting, and then took over for his daughter-in-law at Sehome choir this fall.

What are some of your first takeaways about our community and district?

Our buildings are ridiculously lovely.  Just nuts how beautiful they are!

What do you most look forward to this school year?

Being part of this music community!  I can’t wait to do stuff TOGETHER!


Connie Campbell:

What is your past experience teaching music?

I was born into a musical family in Flagstaff, Arizona.  Before moving to Bellingham, I taught high school choir for ten years in Woodland Park, Colorado and middle school music in Kent, England.  I also taught elementary school for three years at Carl Cozier Elementary before moving back into secondary school at BHS.  I have a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Northern Arizona University and a master’s degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Miami.

What brought you to Bellingham?

I came to Bellingham to be closer to my family, and love that in BPS teachers are empowered to love and nurture their students.

What do you most look forward to this school year?

I’m most looking forward to getting students singing this year- it feels like a long time since we’ve all been able to sing together!







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