Music teacher retiring after 33 years at Kennewick school

A bittersweet smile played across Linda Linn's face as she directed the children's choir Thursday at Canyon View Elementary in Kennewick.

She shepherded groups of kids through two Christmas pageants that day, as she has done at least 70 times before at the school.

But this performance was Linn's last with the Canyon View kids.

Linn is retiring from her job at Canyon View after 33 years at the school. She started when the school first opened and never taught anywhere else.

On Thursday, the longtime music teacher voiced every word of White Christmas to the large group of kids facing the crowd of students, teachers and parents.

The kids relied on Linn's cues, including her acting out the choreography with gestures and hand signals.

The children acted out and sang the Christmas favorites with gusto. That's thanks to their teacher, said Linn's boss.

"She encourages love for music in the kids," said Mark Stephens, the school's principal. "Kids walk out of her class enjoying music."

The enthusiasm was visible in the children on stage Thursday, as it was in Linn's eyes during the performance.

Before the pageant, another emotion emerged from her eyes -- she welled up with tears talking about the only school she ever has known as a teacher.

"I'm going to miss the kids so much," she said, her voice breaking. "My heart is still here."

Linn, 55, has to retire before she is ready due to an injury she sustained in a classroom fall five years ago. Her neck has been bothering her ever since and teaching aggravates the pain, she said.

She taught a second-grade classroom for 15 years before becoming the school's music teacher 18 years ago.

Music can be an "avenue for success" for kids who struggle with many other subjects in school, Linn said. But her favorite thing about teaching music to students is "seeing the joy in their faces," she said.

Missing out on that joy will be difficult. Linn cried during the final rehearsal with the chorus, she said.

"We will miss her greatly," said Stephens, the principal.

She likely will pass on her talents to the next generation of educators. Linn is in negotiations to become a supervisor for student teachers.