Second year music teacher adjusts to a larger school environment


Credit: Gracie Goschke

Mrs. Bergh sits playing “Follow The Drinking Gourd” behind the piano. Off-screen, students sing along in harmony, bringing fall cheer to the J-wing.

Hope Wilson, Guest Writer

In 2021 Austin Malarchick was hired as Loy Norrix’s new choir director after Julie Pelligrino-Hartman transferred to Kalamazoo Central the year prior. 

Long-term choir students were already trying to get used to Malarchick’s brand-new teaching style when about a month into the year, Malarchick left as well. This gave students a sense of panic since they were already behind and struggled to find ways to teach themselves when none of the subs were qualified.

We were already behind on what we were supposed to be doing and our teacher leaving was going to put us behind even further,” said junior Kimber Starks.

A few weeks of substitutes later, rumors of a long-term sub started flooding the choir room. The day Marisa Bergh introduced herself as the choir’s new long-term sub, trumpets resounded! The choir finally had someone with both a teaching and music background to lead them to success. 

A few weeks later Bergh applied, interviewed and became Loy Norrix’s new and permanent choir director. 

Bergh had taught in the 8 years prior at Clear Lake School District, a small system in Polk County, Wisconsin. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Bergh’s old school district only had 269 students, compared to the approximately 1,800 students that go to Norrix. 

This size difference was a huge adjustment for Bergh, but she finds there are plenty of positives to a large school, specifically how many clubs and student-led organizations there are. 

“It’s really awesome to see so many kids that are involved and passionate about those sorts of things, whereas my old school wasn’t really promoted. It was just sports and a few clubs,” said Bergh.

A big adjustment Bergh had to face was the lack of hands-on superintendent and principal involvement in Norrix, as well as a sense of less control.

“In my smaller school, I feel like the teachers and the principals have a little bit more control over what’s going on…. In my old school, the superintendent’s office was right in the school, so he knew more of what was going on,” said Bergh. “ I feel like our superintendent doesn’t really know what’s going on day-to-day in the buildings.”

Feelings about the distance of superintendents aside, Bergh fell quickly into comfort and rapport with students in her class, as well as a nice flow of directing and teaching her kids.

“I do want to point out that coming in mid-year was really hard in some senses, but I felt that the students were really welcoming,” said Bergh.

Bergh also notes the comfort in the familiarity of teaching. Big school or small, that’s one constant Bergh knew she would be able to count on.

Students couldn’t agree more. Senior Terrius Bell raved about how Bergh easily made her room a welcoming and safe place for any student while maintaining structure and order while teaching her classes.

“Her class is where I can spread positivity,” said Bell.

Bergh continues to acclimate to the Norrix environment and is even more involved this year. She’s preparing her students for a huge Fall Fest concert while also spending time after school as the musical director for “Legally Blonde” which runs December 2nd-10th.

Regardless of Norrix being a huge change for her, students are grateful for Bergh’s presence in the school, and two years later she has made herself right at home with the Knights.