With the calm, reassuring voice students in the NIU School of Music have come to recognize over the years, Lynn Retherford described her mission has always been to do whatever she can for the program’s aspiring musicians.
From keeping them on track for graduation and teacher licensure requirements to arranging clinical student-teaching assignments and offering general moral support (and a candy dish, too), Retherford sums her job up as doing “a little bit of everything.”
“They’re my kids. Seeing them become teachers is so rewarding,” Retherford, who has spent 17 years at NIU, said. “You appreciate them because they’re so good. The classical, the jazz, the steel pan … they’re just very talented.”
Retherford’s colleagues view her similarly, and the impact of her work recently earned her an Operating Staff Outstanding Service Award – an honor she described as “overwhelming.”
“Lynn wears many hats in the School of Music and provides daily assistance to all of our majors, as well as supporting faculty and the administration in numerous ways,” Coordinator of Music Education Mary Lynn Doherty said in her nomination of Retherford. “In addition to being highly capable, she is also a pleasure to work with. It is not often that she is alone in her office. Students spend their free time with her between classes and rehearsals. She is a source of information and support for students and faculty alike.”
While Retherford has become a resource to help former students land jobs, she’s also praised for her ability to line her “kids” up with the strong student-teaching opportunities.
“It is widely agreed that Lynn’s work at the university is nothing short of exceptional,” wrote Yorkville High School Band Director Bobby Vriezen and Middle School Band Director Michael Lipinski. “Lynn works tirelessly to ensure that the students in the NIU School of Music are working with the highest caliber music educators in the state through clinical observation and student teaching.”