Over the years, Hillsboro has developed a reputation as a musically inclined community, a fact that carries over to Hillsboro High School.
“The music — band and choir — is huge to the school district,” HHS Principal Max Heinrichs said Friday.
HHS vocal music teacher Lynn Just is happy to have those high expectations, and she demands the effort needed to meet those expectations from her students.
“I don’t think a lot of people understand how hard it is to stay as good as Hillsboro has been,” Just said.
Her personal motto, which she has posted for her students to see, is “Strive for perfection, and you will always be above excellence.”
Every day she wants students to improve, saying that if they aren’t progressing, they’re regressing. Just tries to take the same approach to improvement in her teaching. In the summer of 2010, she took a class about using multiple senses to improve learning.
One of the things she learned in the class was the use of rhythmic movement to help a choir improve their singing in unison, a lesson that has been helpful with her students.
“I’m a long way from incorporating everything from that class,” Just said. “But I’m sold on it. It has really done great things.”
As early as when she was in kindergarten, Just knew she wanted to teach music.
“It’s what I always wanted to do, probably because my mom always sang with us,” she said. “We were always singing.”
The only time she seriously considered a career other than music education was as a high school senior. She took an accounting class and enjoyed it enough that she entertained the idea of becoming an accountant.
Just received a bachelor’s degree in music education from McPherson College. She taught all grades for nine years in the Peabody-Burns school district. She took about 12 years off from teaching, but directed the HHS musical during that time and recently directed her 19th musical at the school. She returned to teaching full-time in 2005 at HHS.
Just teaches fifth-grade music and band, two sixth-grade music classes, middle school choir, high school concert choir, and Spirit-N-Celebration.
“The best thing about teaching music is when students have a success and realize it was a success,” she said.
It doesn’t happen often, but when a student has a breakthrough and sings a song exactly as it was meant to be, they often realize it and are as excited as their teacher.
One of Just’s favorite moments as a teacher came when an entire choir had a breakthrough on a song during competition. She said she could see a change on the students’ faces when they simultaneously realized how well they were performing together.