Alumni Award for Respected Educator Ann L. Schultz

Wednesday, November 24, 2021
Ann L. Schultz

Pursuing a career in music education was a dream for Ann L. Schultz (BA 1990) who was always passionate about making music. After finishing a degree in music at Conrad Grebel College, Ann completed a Bachelor of Education and began her teaching career at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate in 1991, becoming head of the music program there in 1997. In 2011-2012, Ann served as interim assistant principal and earned her Private School Principal Accreditation Part 1 (Ontario Federation of Independent Schools) in the fall of 2012. She began her role as Rockway’s Principal in January 2013 and will retire from that role in December 2021.

Ann brought energy, passion, and creativity to her role as a music teacher and choir director in a high school setting that had a strong tradition of music making. She spearheaded the first all school musical in 1996, directing the Sound of Music and subsequently Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Annie, Cotton Patch Gospel, High School Musical, and Godspell. In 2007 she produced the choral recording Pieces and participated in many choir festivals, hosting the Mennonite Schools Council Festivals in 2001 and 2010. “Instilling the love of music in my students and impressing on them how they can be messengers of a message has been an important part of being a music educator, specifically in a faith-based environment. Additionally, I was committed to bringing an integrated approach to my music practice, exposing my students to the music of the masters, the music of the church, and the music of today.”

Taking on the role of principal at a small Grade 7 to 12 school was challenging, but was a natural offshoot of her commitment to faith-based education and a way to continue to nurture her love for students. “Having taught at Rockway for so many years, moving to the role of principal was another way I felt I would be able to advance Rockway’s mission, which has a strong emphasis of putting values into action through service and peacemaking,” Ann reflected. “Leading a school that encourages students to learn, form faith and build character has been deeply life-giving to me. It has been an incredible honor to work with so many committed and dedicated people over the last 30 years!”

As principal, it has been important for Ann to incorporate respect, active listening, collaboration, compassion, clear communication and inclusion into her leadership practice. She sought to embrace these values as she worked in the areas of finance, human resources, advancement, admissions, program, and board governance and throughout her nine years as Principal, remained committed to honoring Rockway's mission, vision and values. During COVID-19, Rockway has responded very nimbly by providing safe programs for student interaction. “Being a small school with such a capable and collaborative team, collectively we were able to pivot to online instruction and also find ways to build community in creative and innovative ways during such an unprecedented time,” said Ann.

Beyond the Rockway campus, Ann has given leadership to Mennonite Schools Council conferences, Sound in the Land conferences at Grebel in 2009 and 2014, the 50th anniversary for the Inter-Mennonite Children’s Choir in 2018 and over the years, has led various inter-generational choirs at Waterloo North Mennonite Church, her home congregation. Ann is married to Steve Pfisterer and they are parents of two Rockway alumni – including Elizabeth who lived at Grebel in 2016-2017.

“Many of our Music alumni have gone on to careers in education and it is gratifying to see this impact in a variety of settings” noted Music Department Chair, Mark Vuorinen.

Ann came to Grebel after completing a Bachelor of Church Music at Canadian Mennonite Bible College. “At that time, many of my friends came to Waterloo,” she explained. “I was interested in engaging in a setting where community was important and the music education I received would further my goals. I have fond memories of music courses and music ensembles led by Len Enns, Ken Hull, and Wilbur Maust. One of my highlights was participating in the Music and Culture trip to Vienna, facilitated by Bill, which included singing medieval music beside the Melk Abbey.”

“Ann is a compelling example of leadership in the midst of challenging times and is a role model for our students who seek ways to connect their passion to a vocational calling,” announced President Marcus Shantz. “For her entire career, Ann has represented Grebel’s ideals. Her contribution to the church and to the spiritual, intellectual, and musical growth of teenagers is significant. For this reason, we are pleased to award Ann Grebel’s 2021 Distinguished Alumni Service Award.”

The award will be presented to Ann at a brunch for Grebel alumni educators on March 5, 2022. “Many of our alumni are educators,” added Alumni Executive Chair Michael Shum (BASC 2011), who teaches at Kitchener Collegiate Institute. “Educators make indelible impacts on the lives of young people every day. I am sure that there are many more Grebel students considering a career in teaching, perhaps due to one or more inspirational teachers they had during school. Our committee thought that bringing alumni teachers together to share their insights and experiences would create an informative event for anyone interested in education, and allow teachers and students to connect about common struggles due to the pandemic, as well as their shared hopes for the future.”