Faculty Appreciation & Spotlight: Mrs. Rexroth


Emily Wollan, VisLife Editor

Mrs. Rexroth is an integral part of the Visitation community who embodies the Salesian virtues. She has been teaching choir at Vis since 2004. 

Mrs. Rexroth goes above and beyond to create a fun and supportive learning environment where every student gets the chance to build their confidence and enjoy what they are doing. In choir, students learn about music theory through sight-reading, breathing techniques, performance skills, and various lessons on rhythmic notation. But as current sophomore Grace Loonan notes, “She not only teaches us to sing well but also to love singing!” Mrs. Rexroth’s contributions to the Visitation community certainly do not go unnoticed by those around her. When asked how Mrs. Rexroth impacted their lives, alumnae and current students were singing Mrs. Rexroth’s praises (pun intended): “She’s taught me the power of trusting myself, and she is such an empowering role model”. One alum shared that the quality they appreciate most about Mrs. Rexroth is “her contagious energy and passion for music”, while another said, “her sense of humor and how she genuinely cares about everyone”. It is more than clear that Mrs. Rexroth has made a significant impact on every student that she has mentored, one that extends beyond high school. 

Mrs. Rexroth’s love for music and teaching manifests in her dedication to the program and how she looks out for every student she encounters. One of the best examples of just how much work Mrs. Rexroth puts into the choir program was from February of 2021. Every other year, the choir goes on

Disney Day!

tour, so in February of 2021, we were supposed to be going to Disney World for tour. However, due to COVID, doing a traveling tour wasn’t possible. The group was incredibly disappointed, but Mrs. Rexroth made sure to do something special for us anyways. One day, she surprised us with our own “Disney Day” and dedicated a class period to that. She decorated the Fine Arts Foyer to look like the entrance to Disney World using stanchions to mimic the lines going into Disney World and included life-size cutouts of Disney characters to mimic the Disney characters that walked around Disney World. She created gifts bags for us all including Mickey ears, a cookie, and other treats. In DeSales, she organized Disney-themed trivia with Mrs. Patterson and projected a youtube recording of Disney World rides and a High School Musical dance tutorial for us to partake in. She truly went above and beyond to make sure that we had a special experience even if we couldn’t do a tour in exactly the same way as we had originally planned. In fact, it is one of the moments of high school that I will cherish the most, I believe even more so than I would’ve cherished a normal tour experience.

While COVID has presented to be a problem for all aspects of life, the performing arts have taken a massive beating. Singing had scientifically proven to be one of the riskiest activities, which left choir directors such as Mrs. Rexroth to answer the question: How do we provide the world with the much-needed joy of music while still keeping ourselves and one another safe? Mrs. Rexroth was determined to achieve both aspects by coming up with creative ways to safely continue singing, using our outdoor space to sing during class times along with utilizing various distancing strategies while still being able to work as one, cohesive unit. 

“Choir was by far one of the best parts of high school at Vis,” said Grace Conroy, a member of the Class of 2021 who was in choir all four years of high school. A strong asset to the Chamber Choir Soprano section, Grace expressed her gratitude for Mrs. Rexroth and praises her creative visions for choir during COVID. Grace reflects on the virtual concert in which Mrs. Rexroth worked directly with the choir directors at both the Georgetown Visitation and St. Louis Visitation to collaborate to create a virus-safe virtual choir. “We filmed videos of ourselves singing, and she put together virtual choirs that sounded remarkably similar to all of us singing together, as in a normal time.” The Youtube upload of the Virtual choir concert has now been viewed over 1,000 times, highlighting that even in times of strife, music rallies us together and can create beauty. 

I sat down with Mrs. Rexroth to talk about how she first got involved with teaching choir along with her time at Vis:

Prior to teaching at Vis, Mrs. Rexroth received her bachelor’s degree in Vocal & Classroom Education from St. Olaf. She then received her master’s degree in Choral Conducting from Michigan State University. When asked how she got into teaching, Mrs. Rexroth said, “I graduated from St. Olaf College with a degree in Vocal Education. When I entered St. Olaf College, my voice had not developed yet. I was a singer, but I was not a singer who could perform at all. I didn’t have a strong voice. I had a long vocal puberty where my voice was changing. And so I was put on a track to go into teaching. It was more that my voice wasn’t ready yet, and so I went with a teaching route because that way I could take my experiences of how my voice changed and then put that into my teaching. And of course, my voice got more mature as we went because I grew up. But that’s how I got started. I went in with a singing voice that was ready to teach, not perform, and so those were kind of the only things I wanted to do: perform singing and teach singing. Therefore, I went with teaching singing.”

Mrs. Rexroth has always had music present in her life as her mother is also a singer and composer! “My mom is a singer and I grew up singing in choirs my whole life. Because it was just what we did. I sang at church, I sang at school. But it was basically what my family did. And that’s all we did. I didn’t do sports: I had a voice lesson, a piano lesson, and a flute lesson every week, and I had Church every Sunday and every Wednesday, so that was my week. It was all music!” Speaking of her mother, when asked who her greatest inspiration is, Mrs. Rexroth without hesitation said that it was her mother saying, “It’s my mom, full-stop. I didn’t know anything different about what a woman could do with music. She just did it. And so I followed her path because she laid it out so very well for me. And in fact, I get to work with her. I’m on staff at Mayflower (church) with her. She and I work together. So that’s inspiring too because I learn about what it takes to be a good leader. But she is also learning from me because I have the education degree, she has the vocal degree. So we inspire each other. She sends me compositions that she is working on and then I help her with them. It’s pretty great.” 

Mrs. Rexroth’s time at Vis started in 2004 and she recounted the story of her finding the position. She started her job as a full-time choir director at a school in Wisconsin with a large program and stayed for three years until she ultimately resigned because the environment wasn’t the right fit for her. She expressed feeling discouraged and this discouragement led her to question whether directing choir was really her calling. She remembers saying to herself, “If this is what teaching choir is like, I do not want to teach Choir.” Luckily, her mother ran into Mrs. Fahey, the former middle school choir director at Vis who shared that there was an opening for an upper school choir director. Mrs. Rexroth recalls pushing back against the suggestion by her mother, but ultimately applied for the position without telling anyone, “And I was like, nope not going to do it. I told you I wasn’t going to do it. So I applied for it without telling my parents because it had to be my decision. And I applied, and I got it, and what I realized was that I was rebelling against the full-time was big, major programs. What I wanted was something smaller that I could meld and do interesting things with. I then took my parents out to dinner and I didn’t tell them anything until we got our drinks, and I said, ‘Well I just want to raise a glass to the new choir director at Visitation’ And they both put their heads down and they started crying! And I’ve been here ever since! 18 years!”

It’s no surprise that with the educational and musical experience of Mrs. Rexroth, she is talented beyond belief and a key member of the Visitation community. When asked what her favorite part about Vis is, she stated that her absolute favorite part is the students and the music created together, but her relationships with her colleagues are a close second. She says, “There are so many favorite parts. Because the reason that I come back every day is the singers, obviously. I’m coming back for the students and the music that we make together. I love coming to Vis because of my students. That’s my favorite part. Right underneath that favorite part is my relationships with these colleagues. With Wendy, and with Ross, and with Meghan and Jennifer, and ballet with Anna. I have never experienced collegial relationships like I have here. Even in just the past two years. These are the richest collaborators that I have. I absolutely love coming to Vis because of my colleagues as well.”

My last question to Mrs. Rexroth was about the greatest lesson that she has learned while teaching at Vis. She answered, “It’s a lesson I’m still learning. It is that no matter if the art that I’m doing right now as a choral artist is an ensemble activity, because my job is to make the group cohesive and to make sure that everyone feels welcomed in the group, I am still learning that I have to make individual connections with kids. I’m still working on it because I want to make individual connections with kids, but I want to help them vocally, but that doesn’t necessarily matter. It’s an individual, “I know you. I see you. I know what you are interested in, and I can talk to you about that because I know that about you.” To make kids feel seen and I think that is something that I like to tie to all of the work that we are doing.” I can speak from personal experience that this is something that Mrs. Rexroth has always done a noticeably excellent job of. She creates a space in which students can flourish and grow. It’s a safe space, but also a place where you are pushed and encouraged to step out of your comfort zone. As Maia Sutton, a current freshman said, “I appreciate that Mrs. Rexroth takes the time to get to know every single one of us.” 

Mrs. Rexroth, you are truly an inspiration to us all and we appreciate you more than you know!