UI senior an instrument of teaching

May 11—As the daughter of a musician, University of Idaho senior Alexis Gist saw at an early age the powerful effect music can have on a community.

After joining her middle school band, she was struck by how separate individuals can come together to learn music "and make something bigger than ourselves."

She was hooked.

"I was like, 'Oh, I have to do this for the rest of my life,' " Gist said.

Gist, who grew up in Pullman, is hoping to instill that same passion for music in others. After graduating from the UI today she will embark on a music education career.

It will be a continuation of her work as a UI student, which recently earned her national recognition.

The UI announced in April that Gist received the Professional Achievement Award from the National Association for Music Education.

Gist said NAfME provides professional development opportunities to future music educators and performers. The UI's chapter of NAfME was recognized for helping the Lapwai Middle/High School restart its band program after a decade hiatus.

Gist and her fellow classmates helped Lapwai teacher Emma Shaffer take the school's instruments out of storage to fix them, clean them and get them ready for the band program in the fall.

She said that when teachers like Shaffer ask for help, music educators like Gist and her classmates want to support them.

That's a natural part of teaching, Gist said.

"It's such a community-based field to go into," Gist said.

Lori Conlon Khan, a UI music education professor who advised Gist, said Gist is a natural leader. She said her student was instrumental in reviving the UI's NAMfE chapter after it had gone dormant during the first couple years of COVID-19.

"Lexi was really the person who got us up and going and encouraged her fellow students to get involved in service projects and coming to events," Conlon Khan said.

Conlon Khan said the music education program at the UI has one of the highest credit requirements on campus, so those who get through it need to display perseverance and passion.

Gist also taught the Moscow Charter School's marimba club, where she developed a love for introducing young students to the basics of music. Once the principles of music are explained in a way students can understand them, it sparks their passion, Gist said.

"I realized young students are so capable," she said.

Gist is currently a student teacher for the band program at Post Falls High School. She wants to earn a master's degree at the UI and find a teaching job at the K-12 level.

Conlon Khan said Gist is going to be "awesome" wherever she goes. She said Gist is one of those students who disprove the idea that young people are lazy.

"With students like Lexi, our future is in good hands," she said.

The UI's spring commencement ceremonies will take place at 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the Kibbie Dome

Kuipers can be reached at akuipers@dnews.com.