The teachers who touch students’ lives are remembered long after graduation. Longtime NSEA member Sharon Hoffman of Bayard made a profound impact that led nearly 70 of her music students back to Bayard after she died.
Alumni hosted a music memorial in Hoffman’s honor, gathering to sing in the Bayard park on July 17. The event included a hog roast and T-shirt sales, as well as a GoFundMe page, to raise money for a scholarship that will be given in Hoffman’s name to students wishing to become music educators.
“Mom had three children who followed in her footsteps to become music teachers,” Hoffman’s daughter Sarah Consbruck said, “but she had hundreds of kids.”
Those hundreds were the students who passed through her music room throughout her 34 years at Bayard Public Schools.
Hoffman directed the award-winning choir, varsity swing choir, underclass swing choir and a guitar class. She also started a junior high swing choir and a jazz choir, and directed the band for a time.
Performers at the memorial spanned Hoffman’s three decades of teaching: some from her first year student-teaching in 1979, and some from her final year teaching in 2012. They sang music they had learned under Hoffman’s direction.
“I wanted to be a performer,” Hoffman’s daughter Michaela Babic said, “but the more I got into my classes, the more I realized that the reason I loved it so much is because of the educational experiences she had provided for us. That was really where my passion was – the experiences provided along the way.”
“One thing that my sisters and I learned from my mom is that through music you can affect change,” her son Jacob Hoffman said. “Not all students are going to go into music, but in music you can teach them hard work ethic. You can teach them how to work as a team. It really helps to be in those groups and learn how to be a more complete human. I think Mom really embodied that.”
In the late 1980s, Hoffman’s master’s thesis helped shape the rules of maternity leave in Nebraska schools. She was named the Nebraska Music Educators Association Outstanding Music Educator of the Year in 2006 and earned the same from the Nebraska Federation of High Schools in 2007.
Her family and former students noted how she taught all of her students with the same love and compassion, regardless of their background or how well they did in school.
Her husband, Ron, attributed this to her accomplished musicianship, but also to her mastery of the process of music instruction.
“She helped people grow into who they were,” Ron said. “If they had the confidence to sing a song, they had the confidence to apply for a job. They grew as people, and they grew as individuals, and they grew as a group. She did teach great music, but she grew people. That’s what she was all about.”
The Sharon Hoffman Memorial Scholarship Fund has a goal of raising $15,000. Contributions may be made at gofundme.com/f/sharon-hoffman-memorial-scholarship.