Love for music, students fills Hollier’s life; Groves Middle School teacher wins Reaud award

GROVES — Kathy Hollier’s devotion to music and her students hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Hollier, who has been choir director at Groves Middle School for 25 years, is one of 15 recipients of the Beaumont Foundation of America’s Reaud Excellence in Education Award.

“She is by far the best choir teacher I’ve been around in my 27 years in education,” Groves Middle School Principal James Arnett said.

Arnett said it’s Hollier’s way of connecting with students that makes her such a good teacher.

“She connects with this age group. She connects with both boys and girls and is willing to go above and beyond what’s required in the classroom,” he said.

Kathy Hollier, choir director at Groves Middle School, left, works with her students on Wednesday. Mary Meaux/The News

Kathy Hollier, choir director at Groves Middle School, left, works with her students on Wednesday.
Mary Meaux/The News

Hollier works with a big number of students — more than 100 sixth-graders and 200 seventh- and eighth-graders and loves every minute of it, and it shows.

“In two weeks we will perform the National Anthem at the Houston Astros game, and last week we performed the National Anthem at the Houston Rockets game, and in the fall we will perform at the Houston Dynamo professional soccer game,” Hollier said. “We also participate at the Renaissance Festival on School Days. We’ve been going every year since 2008 and have placed every year, and in May we will perform in the Broadway musical The Lion King Jr. at the school.”

Hollier has spent her whole career at Groves Middle School.

“It was my first job out of college,” she said. “I love it and love the school. I can’t imagine not being on this campus.”

Kathy Hollier, choir director at Groves Middle School, poses for a photo with some of her students. Mary Meaux/The News

Kathy Hollier, choir director at Groves Middle School, poses for a photo with some of her students.
Mary Meaux/The News

The Beaumont Foundation has recognized superior teachers whose dedication and leadership inspire both students and fellow educations since 2009. The awards provide public acclaim and financial awards to these teachers who are promoting excellence in education throughout Southeast Texas, according to a press release from the nonprofit organization.

“Education is the key to a better future, and great teachers are the key to education,” Wayne A. Reaud, chairman of the board, said. “Our winners are outstanding representatives of excellence in education.”

Hollier’s love of music began at an early age. She began playing piano at 3 and started piano lessons at 5. Choir wasn’t offered in middle and high school in Hardin Jefferson, she said, so she took band. Her first real choir experience was at Lamar University.

“I always knew I wanted to teach and wanted to teach with music,” she said.

Studies show that students who are exposed to music are better in academics.

“Our classroom combines all academics: language arts, math, foreign language. We have songs in Hebrew and one we are working on for UIL (University Interscholastic League competition) that’s Japanese,” she said. “Music also teaches science, such as the vocal system, and incorporates physical education. Music stimulates all parts of the brain, and studies show that math, reading comprehension and creativity improves with music.”

Hollier remembered back to the student teaching phase of her education when she was placed with elementary school aged kids.

“They were sweet and precious little kids, but it wasn’t the right fit,” she said. “I had heard stories about (dealing with) middle school kids. For me, they’re old enough to do Broadway musicals and still have enthusiasm. That’s what sticks with me, their enthusiasm.”

Hollier has had former students go on to become band and choir teachers, music majors and one — Amanda LaVergne, go on to star on Broadway.

“It’s very rewarding to see that. I love it. It (teaching choir) is my life.”

Hollier’s family is also involved in music. Her husband, Todd, is an insurance agent as well as the drummer for the band Eazy, and son Jake recently graduated from Lamar University with a degree in music business and is working toward his master’s degree.

Hollier has a close relationship with her students and hopes to make a lasting impression on them.

“I hope they take something from here as they go on with their lives,” she said. “One day they will be too old for sports, but they will still be able to sing.”

Email: mary.meaux@panews.com

Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews

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