Karin Rutz shares her love of music with the students she teaches.
She is a new teacher in the Waupaca School District this school year, teaching music at Waupaca Learning Center and Chain ‘O Lake Elementary School.
“I don’t think you have to be a great singer or musician to love music,”
she said. “I want kids to enjoy music, to appreciate it.”
Rutz was in seventh grade when she discovered her own love of music.
The summer before she started that grade, her family had moved from Stevens Point to Amherst. New to the school, Rutz decided to join choir.
“I signed up for solo and ensemble. I tried it, and it turned out that I was one of the only seventh graders getting a first at district,” she said. “So, the next year, I did it again. I got another first. Eventually, I went to state. I got hooked.”
Rutz says that Karen Dunn inspired her and got her started.
“We had variety shows. I had solos in that,” Rutz said.
During her junior and senior years of high school, Rutz had the leads in the musicals. She also sang at church.
“I think I kind of recognized I was good at something,” she said.
After graduating from high school, Rutz went to the University of Wisconsin in Madison, graduating in 1988 in vocal performance.
She moved back to the area after she graduated from college and for nine years, worked at Sentry Insurance. She was a stay-at-home mom for several years and then began working in the Amherst School District.
While working there, there was an opening for the middle school/high school choral position, but Rutz did not have her teaching certificate.
Around 2004, she began taking classes to obtain it, and in 2006, received her K-12 teaching certificate for vocal and general music.
For a year, she taught in Amherst for a teacher who was on sabbatical.
The next year, she was hired for an elementary position in the DC Everest School District.
“I really liked it, but it was 53 miles one way,” Rutz said. “I worked there one year. Then, several openings in Stevens Point came up.”
She worked in that school district for two years until failed referendums resulted in cuts to the district’s music department.
Rutz was among the teachers cut and was happy to be hired in the Waupaca School District.
She says the students are great and the staff is nice.
“I thought I wanted to perform on stage, but I always loved all kinds of music,” Rutz said. “In my mind, I always thought it would have been nice to teach at the college level.”
She said with older students, teachers can challenge them.
“For this age,” she said of her students, “you’re teaching them the love of music.”
And, she sees this as being important.
Rutz continues to sing in her church choir and has been a co-director of the community theater in Amherst.
She has three children: 18-year-old Phillip, 17-year-old Katelyn and 15-year-old Lindsay.
“I just think music is so important. So many other aspects of the curriculum tie into it,” Rutz said. “There are lots of kids who don’t excel in sports or in academics. I just think music is such an important part of everyones lives.”