Ms. Jirele shares her music with the Cotter community

During our high school and college years, we are all trying to figure ourselves out. We feel pressure to get good grades, go out for activities and sports, and most importantly, pick out a career. But how do we figure that out?

Ms. Jirele, the new choir teacher at Cotter, was vacillating between graphic design and vocal music education when she asked herself an important question: “What would make me happiest?” Her answer was to share music with others.

Ms. Emma Jirele is the new 7th-12th grade choir teacher at Cotter. This is her 4th year teaching middle and high school choir, after 3 yrs. in Jackson County, MN.

Before then, she majored in vocal music education at the University of Minnesota, where she was inspired by her conductors and was chosen to compete in the 2017 ACDA National Undergraduate Student Conducting Competition. Mrs. Jirele was also inspired to go into vocal music by her high school music teacher, Kerry Johnson, who still teaches in Ms. Jirele’s hometown of Worthington, MN. Mrs. Jirele says that she tries to incorporate Johnson’s ideal of “students before repertoire” in her own teaching at Cotter.

Students before repertoire

— Ms. Jirele

The students at Cotter appreciate this student-centered approach to music education. Gianina Morrell, a junior at Cotter, mentions that “she has taken so much time to get to know all of us,” and other students describe Mrs. Jirele as kind and welcoming. Also, students agree that Mrs. Jirele is very dedicated and hardworking.

“Ms. Jirele put in so much effort for her first concert here at Cotter, and in return I feel was such a success!,” Sandra Villanueva, a freshman at Cotter, said.

Ms. Jirele’s first concert at Cotter was on December 9, a Christmas concert in the gorgeous Chapel of the Angels. Students, parents, and alumni say that the concert was beautiful, though different in difficulty and style than the concerts under the previous choir teacher, Mrs. Snyder.

“While we love Mrs. Snyder, it is nice to have a change of pace in the choir room… She (Ms. Jirele) also chose pieces for the choir concert that were unlike any I have performed. Her first concert was a great success, and I was so honored to be a part of it!, ” senior choir section leader Megan Morgan said.

“Overall, her first concert went very well. She challenged us with hard music, but I think it paid off in the end, ” added Tess Mullen, another senior section leader in the choir.

Mrs. Jirele conducting the Cotter Choir during the Christmas concert

The Cotter community enjoyed the amazing concert and  welcomes Mrs. Jirele, who seems to be enjoying Winona. She decided to move to Winona from Jackson County in search of a more supportive teaching environment, especially in regards to her colleagues.

Ms. Jirele says that she is grateful for the support of the administration and faculty at Cotter, and says she is enjoying the “larger, (in regards to Jackson County) vibrant, community,” and its “inviting atmosphere.” She also likes the beautiful bluffs, where she and her husband enjoy hiking, and the fact that her extended family lives here. (Fun fact: Mr. Howard, the Dean of Education at Cotter, is Ms. Jirele’s cousin.)

For all these reasons, Ms. Jirele is planning to stay in Winona and continue to share her music with the Cotter Community.