Even as a toddler, Samantha Pinchard loved to perform. It wasn’t long after she took her first steps, that she was reciting her favorite book, Dr. Seuss’ “Cat in the Hat.” Soon, she was playing the flute and singing.
“I’ve always been inclined to do something musical,” Pinchard says, adding that at 10, she began a string a performances in musicals at the Racine Theatre Guild.
Now at 22, Pinchard is set to graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with two bachelor’s degrees, one in arts and music education, and the other in drama. This month, she is student teaching Grades 3-12 at Golda Meir Elementary School, a Milwaukee Public School for gifted and talented students.
And here is where Pinchard’s passion for all things musical turns full circle – from student to teacher. This turn didn’t just happen. Pinchard credits her time at Shoreland Lutheran High School in Somers and the teachers who coached and guided her.
“I have never questioned what I wanted to do,” she says. “I have always wanted to be a music or a theater teacher, something I have been saying since I was very little.”
But it was the opportunity in high school that turned aspiration to reality.
“I appreciated Mr. (James) Groth and Pastor (Thomas) Bauer,” Pinchard shares. “They both had a large influence on my musical career. I was really involved in high school. I did choir all four years, band all four years, and Mr. Groth actually encouraged me to start taking flute lessons. That’s where I grew so much. That’s what really led me to become the musician I am today. I am a singer now, but if I didn’t have that fundamental knowledge from them, I wouldn’t be here.”
Her teachers gave her confidence to compete in the regional Diva Quest singing competition, where she placed second, and to portray Hermia in William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” while she attended Shoreland. She reaches back to remember their encouragement now in college, where there are many performers with strong talents.
“I was secure in high school. Then I got to college, and I began to doubt myself – all of the time,” she confesses. It’s the performing arts, and there really is never a time when you don’t doubt yourself.”
But as Pinchard started her classes, she realized she stood on firm ground. The instruction and encouragement she received at Shoreland helped her realize how much she did know. Now, she is poised to return the favor by passing on that passion and knowledge to other students.
“There is something about watching kids get it,” Pinchard says. “I watch them as they become as passionate about music and theater as I am. That gives me a really big sense of fulfillment and happiness. It is so rewarding to me.”