Well hello! It's been awhile! I'm going to update about our little ones later today- but I have a minute so I thought I'd let ya know what going on with us parents!
Since graduating I've been able to stay home with the girls and I love that I am able to do that. It's not easy, but we know it's worth it. I've been running- still haven't given up on that :) There were a few weeks where things were just so crazy and Kyle was gone so I wasn't able to keep it super consistant, but I'm up to 2.25 miles and I'm pretty proud of that considering .5 miles was tough for me when I started. It really is mental, and there is a "runners mode" that you get into where you're just running, but then you think 'I'm in my runners mode!' and there it goes, so I'm going to have to learn to keep in it ha ha. That's about it for me- just being a Mom and a wife. It's a simple life but one that I know is a very important job and let's be honest, these Men would be lost without us :) I'm starting to like Holbrook. As you can probably guess I never thought I would say that- but it really is starting to feel like home (4 years later) and I actually feel like I have a few friends here. I've started going to our wards Book Club and Macy really enjoys Storytime at the Library, which secretly us Moms just take our kids there so we can chat and have the kids entertained, but that's just fine. I'm not itching to move to the valley anymore, and I can really see us raising our kids here.
As for Kyle, we absolutely loved Kyle's music position in Joseph City, but we've recently made a HUGE change and Kyle will be teaching in Holbrook this year! We're going to miss the J.C. kids A LOT but we're excited to make new friends :) The job paid a lot more, better benefits, closer to home, and just felt right after lots of prayers and talking about it. This summer has been absolutely NOT a summer break for Kyle, during June he was a facilitator at a leadership camp for HOBY which he really enjoyed and then he tagged along with my parents on the Race Across America. He crewed for another Team Donate Life Team that was in need of a crew member, so he wasn't with my parents during the race. He really enjoyed it and learned what real sleep deprivation was really like. Maybe he'll come on blogger and give you guys more details about that :)
Kyle had an interview with the local newspaper about following in his Dad's footsteps of teaching here in Holbrook and I think the article turned out awesome.
Here it is!
By Teri Walker–
On the wall of Kyle and Alli Gardner’s home in Holbrook is the quote, “Be true to who you are and the family name you bear.” It’s an apt adage for a young man who is about to step into the shoes once filled by his father, teaching music to students in Holbrook schools, and hoping to broaden the community arts scene.
Kyle Gardner will take up the role of Holbrook High School and Holbrook Junior High School choir director this fall, leading five choirs and one dance group at the two schools. He’s also championing the development of a community arts alliance, which is in the preliminary planning stages.
It would be understandable if Gardner felt a bit of pressure stepping into his new roles. Not only is he inheriting a successful high school choir program from predecessor Debra Thomas, who left Holbrook schools this spring, but he’s taking up a post once held by his father, George Gardner, who taught music in Holbrook for many years and for whom the George Gardner Performing Arts Center in Holbrook is named.
If he is feeling pressure, Gardner isn’t showing it. Instead, he’s brimming with enthusiasm about his new position and already working with students to prepare for the coming year.
“My whole desire in getting my music education degree was to come back to a small town and let these kids know they can do big things,” said Gardner.
He speaks highly of departing choir director Thomas (“She did fantastic things for Holbrook.”), but explains he’ll bring his own style to the music program. Gardner describes the many initiatives he already has underway or planned for the music program: working with the HHS drama department to prepare a spring musical; holding a week-long choir camp later this month; going on choir tours; and bringing in professional artists to work with students. Gardner will instruct students in the full range of musical genres, from folk to classical to jazz, and focus on technical voice training.
Prior to his new position, Gardner was the district music director for Joseph City Schools, where he taught choir, band and drama, instructing fourth through 12th grades. He also managed the auditorium and coached junior high football, among other duties.
Leaving Joseph City was a hard decision for the Gardners, who said they loved the work, the students and the community. But, they’re confident the decision to come to Holbrook was the right one for their family. Citing the appeal of focusing more specifically on choir, which is his primary training, Kyle added, “There was also some allure to teaching in the George Gardner auditorium.”
Kyle grew up working alongside his father and the rest of the family at George’s job with Holbrook schools. Kyle describes productions and tours where his brothers would be running the soundboard, his sisters would be backstage putting make up on performers and his mom would be cooking for everyone in the production. His father’s job was a family affair, he said.
“When the performing arts center was dedicated, I remember people saying Mom’s name should have been right up there alongside Dad’s,” said Gardner. “One lady who’d worked with Dad and Mom for many years came up to me at the dedication and said, ‘Go get a ladder, I’ve got the paint, we’ll climb on up and slap Marie’s name up there.’”
Gardner chuckled and said, “When Dad died someone said, ‘Watch out! Now someone else is going to die,’ because Dad couldn’t do anything alone.”
Gardner said his dad was known for his one-liners and story telling.
“Character is more important than talent,” was a standard. The expanded version added, “…I can teach a monkey how to sing, but you have to have character when you walk through the door.”
Gardner recalls his father couldn’t stand to see anyone sleeping, so 6 a.m. wake up calls followed by a day of tasks were a standard around their house. If they weren’t working around their own home, they were working in the community or serving others. Every Saturday, the family participated in some kind of service project.
One morning, Kyle said his dad didn’t have a particular chore in mind when he woke him at 6 a.m. When Kyle asked why he’d been rousted from bed, George replied, “I want you to do something productive every day of your life.”
While Kyle wished he could have gone back to bed after receiving that paternal edict, it turns out his life models that of his father’s more than he might have expected it to as he was grudgingly rolling out of bed all those early mornings.
In addition to Gardner’s school music job, he and his wife of four years have a DJ company, KandA Sound. Gardner is on the executive board of the Holbrook Chamber of Commerce, is a member of the Old West Days Committee and is a Boy Scouts of America Scoutmaster, in addition to being an engaged father of two-year-old Macy and 10-month-old London.
Still, Gardner is adding another major endeavor to his plate. He has begun working with community members to develop a non-profit community arts alliance.
“Music should be for your whole life. It shouldn’t stop when you’re out of school,” said Gardner, who envisions developing a community choir through the alliance. The alliance would help sponsor and promote performing and visual arts, supporting local artists, the community choir, musicals, performances in the park, dance studios and more.
Gardner hopes to have broad community support in developing the alliance, and has scheduled the first public meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 28, in the HHS music room.
To the observation that he has a lot going on, Kyle and Alli both respond that they do everything as a family, so Kyle isn’t absent as much as one might expect. He is following his dad’s example of making his work a family affair. Alli is by his side, whether organizing fundraisers or assisting with productions, and their small daughters are behind the scenes at every event.
Gardner pulls out another of his father’s quips to explain why he simply does what he puts his mind to, and wants others to know they can count on ideas coming to fruition. “‘If you plan it, do it. Never cancel,’ I learned from my dad,” said Gardner. “I’m ready to just get these things rolling and keep moving ahead.”
It isn’t Gardner who initiated the conversation about continuing his father’s legacy, and he doesn’t wax overtly sentimental when he talks about his dad; instead, he talks with great humor about what growing up with such an on-the-go man was like.
While he intends to establish his own style in his new roles in Holbrook, Gardner does plan to carry on one tradition of his father’s that he speaks of with fondness.
“At the end of every production, Dad would invite former choir students to join with the choir and ring the auditorium, singing the ‘Old Irish Blessing,’” said Gardner. “We sang it at his funeral, and his old students who attended stood and sang with us. And at the end of the George Gardner Show Choir Festival, held every fall, they stand in a circle and sing that old song in honor of my Dad.
“I want to bring that tradition back to Holbrook choirs,” said Gardner. “We’ll be singing the ‘Old Irish Blessing’ again.”