Pamela Thiel, orchestra director at Northview High School and Arbor Hills and McCord junior high schools, and a well-known figure in the regional music scene, ended her 25 year career and retired as of this summer. Thiel’s impact on the Sylvania community has been invaluable.
Thiel started her music journey as a child in her school band. Band was where her friends were, and she involved herself in many music opportunities. She continued playing through the years and eventually decided to pursue music in college. She studied the clarinet, which helped her grow musically and prepared her for teaching music.
Thiel’s first position was at the Bowling Green City Schools as an assistant band director. It was during this time that she was also tasked with teaching a group of string students. Through this, Thiel realized that she loved working with the orchestra. She started to direct and learn more, growing the program there from less than a dozen students to 200. “I retooled and I got serious about violin, and I dug all in on understanding how to teach orchestra,” Theil reflected.
After spending 10 years teaching orchestra at Bowling Green City Schools, Thiel moved to Sylvania Northview High School. Her time there, Thiel said, felt like home to her. “The minute I stepped in the door, I knew it was home. It was the perfect fit; the community and the staff.”
Thiel’s goal as a teacher was to give her students the opportunity to find something they loved and a chance to have a group of people who supported them. “It was always my hope that my students found a place to come during the day, make music, and leave the rest of the world outside for those 42 minutes. And I hoped that was the case for all students. I wanted everybody to have that experience of having joy.”
Thiel also used her involvement in various musical activities outside of the classroom to further give her students different avenues to explore music. “By being involved in musical opportunities myself, my students were able to get a unique look into what music could offer them.”
Especially important, Thiel said, is the Northview community, who was always supportive of her program. “The Sylvania community has been profoundly impactful on my life, in hundreds of ways. The parents that have dedicated their time to come in over the years and volunteer, the friendships that I’ve made with them, the local businesses that support music at Northview, the band and orchestra boosters … it’s a very special place.”
During her retirement, Thiel hopes that the community at Northview will continue to support music and the students. “School is a very important place. It doesn’t matter what your activity is, but you need an activity. The fact that students have an opportunity to be involved in something carries over into when they’re in adulthood and to the next generation, and that’s so special.”