Keeping the Arts Alive in Tyrone

Mrs. Laura Harris, celebrating her 20th year as a Music Teacher at the Tyrone Area Middle School this fall, is a well-known and beloved singer and musician in our community. She has spent a lifetime cultivating her own talents, as well as those of her many students.
Currently, she is in charge of the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Chorus; the 7th and 8th grade show choir, “Vocal Attraction”; the Music Director for St. Matthew Catholic Church; and the Director for the “Allegheny Chorale”, an adult singing group.
“I love what I do,” she explains, when asked how she makes time for all of these responsibilities.
Between these groups, Laura teaches and encourages over 300 children and adults.
Growing up in Cheswick, PA, Laura participated in Band, Chorus, Drama Club, Jazz Band, Marching Band, and played the organ at her church. She is accomplished at playing the flute, piano, and piccolo. After graduating from IUP, Laura accepted the position of Junior High Music Teacher in 1984 with the Tyrone Area School District. She met her husband, Ralph, who was born and raised in Tyrone, while singing with the Allegheny Chorale.
“I sang with the Chorale for the first 5 years, and I’ve been directing for the last fourteen”, Laura stated.
Naturally, her love of music extends to her family. Her license plate “DUET 618” represents their wedding date, and their 3-year-old daughter Molly is already singing with her parents.
Laura credits the success of the school’s music curriculum to the great team of people with whom she works: Kris Laird, Middle School and High School Instrumental Band Director, Cathy Young, High School Music Director, Myra Hess, Elementary Chorale Director, and Tom Verzella, Elementary Instrumental Band Director.
“We work very well together, and help the kids have fun in a structured environment. Academics are essential, but the Arts – Art, Music, and Drama – create well-rounded students. This reinforces and incorporates many other areas into each child’s learning experience,” she said. “We cover the history of the songs we sing, the proper use of English and diction, math skills because we count and sub-divide, foreign language when we sing in Latin, and also socialization skills and teamwork. I love it when kids are proud of their successes. They enjoy it, and I enjoy it, too.”
Her hard work and passion ignites the same in her pupils, keeping the Arts alive and well in Tyrone.