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Marshall Elementary music teacher honored by Lakewood student

From left, Lakewood High School senior Kayleen Shepherd shows off the quilt she made for Marshall Elementary music teacher Heather Moll. - Kirk Boxleitner
From left, Lakewood High School senior Kayleen Shepherd shows off the quilt she made for Marshall Elementary music teacher Heather Moll.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — Even though Kayleen Shepherd never had Heather Moll as her own teacher, the 18-year-old Shepherd was so inspired by Moll's teaching that the Lakewood High School senior made the Marshall Elementary music teacher a quilt, which Shepherd presented to Moll March 20.

For her senior project, Shepherd has been studying music therapy, specifically how music teaching can help special education students. Shepherd's mother, Leslie, manages the kitchen at Marshall Elementary, so she was able to point her daughter in Moll's direction. In Moll's class, Shepherd witnessed how music can be used to help children with autism and Down syndrome better express, and even understand, their own emotions.

"With the different genres of music, you see the kids react differently," Shepherd said. "With jazz songs, they start dancing, and with songs about color, they can incorporate the colors of the song into their talking. It gets them to draw the things they hear, and listen to the words in the songs."

Shepherd cited these lessons as helping special education students to learn how to speak earlier, and pointed to Marshall Elementary as having one of the largest special education programs in the Marysville School District. To honor Moll's accomplishments with her students, Shepherd sewed a quilt, with a music-note pattern on one side, and on the other, pictures of Moll with her students, as well as swatches of fabric that had been cut to resemble puzzle-pieces. Puzzle-pieces are used as a symbol for autism awareness campaigns, to reflect how much remains unknown about autism.

"The way she teaches her kids connects them to their own feelings and incorporates their experiences into their lessons," Shepherd said of Moll. "She always has them doing something, so that they're paying attention and not going off track. At the same time, she still teaches choir for non-disabled kids. This was a big opportunity to realize what I could do, and what I want to do, as an educator."

"I just see it as a normal job, so I'm glad to be able to share it with someone who wants to do it as a career," Moll said, after receiving the quilt March 20. "Besides, it's a blessing to work with these kids. They're so awesome."

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