Humans of Calvert County, Sarah Merranko & Anita Santoyo

“Probably the Elgar Serenade. I love that one. That’s my favorite!

I play mandolin, ukulele, violin, piano, and I play the lap dulcimer and now the hammer dulcimer. I just do it for fun!

I was the music geek in school. Music was everything and I just did it all!

One summer I had to work to earn my piano. I cleaned somebody’s house all summer long and she had a piano and I would sit down and play it. And I kept saying how much do you want for this piano? At the end of the summer she said how much do you have in your savings account? It was a little over $100 and I told her and she said ‘that’s exactly how much I want for my piano.’ So that was how I got my piano, I think I was 16.

I wanted to be a music teacher when I graduated from high school. So I spent four years in the Marines and used my G.I. Bill to go to school.

The look on my dad’s face when I graduated with my doctorate said it all. He was so happy for me that I achieved the end of education.

My job is to teach kids to play music and to enjoy music and make it a life long passion for them. When they leave here, most of them say they’re not going to play the violin. You would not believe how many texts or questions I get half way into their first semester of college.

They realize that they weren’t playing just because they were in an orchestra. They were playing because it gives them something else to do. It gives your brain a different way to think. Gives you a different way to feel and be. It’s hard to explain it, but I always felt that that’s more my job.

I love my kids. I love what I do. It’s the best job in the world. You get to come to work every day and make music with people who love to make music. So it’s a win-win most of the time!

I’m still in denial I’m retiring. My dad is 81 and I feel I need to be closer to him and be more flexible with my schedule so I can go to him. To just spend time with him.

What am I going to miss the most? The kids. Just coming in everyday and making music with them. The paperwork I’m not going to miss! Seeing their smiles…..they keep you young.??

For me it’s just been a joy. You become a teacher not because you’re going to make a lot of money at it. You become a teacher because you care about kids and you want to make a difference. I hope that I’ve done that in my career, I hope that I’ve given enough to the kids to help them function and be happy in life. That’s what I’ve wanted to do with my life so hopefully I have.”

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...