Following the music


Oyedipe taking a “selfie” at her last concert.

It was 2003.

She was driving into what seemed like the middle of nowhere, which was then the largely empty plot Hebron sat on.

She walked into the somewhat eerie fine arts hallway, and was immediately greeted by a huge sign with the words, “Welcome Mrs. Oyedipe.”

Now it is 2016, and orchestra teacher Dawn Oyedipe looks into the well-worn orchestra room, and puts an end to her legacy.

“It’s emotional,” Oyedipe said. “I’ve been here for 13 years and I feel like this is my home. When both of my kids were toddlers, they would run around the orchestra room and climb the cubbies and they’d jump off and do crazy stuff in here, so I feel like this is their home as well.”

At the end of this school year, Oyedipe will leave the school to take the position as orchestra director at Reynolds Middle School. She was offered the job by former Hebron principal Greg Bradley.

“I think what made me want to work at [Reynolds] was that it was a new program and these folks have wanted an orchestra for a really long time, but had no access to an orchestra,” Oyedipe said. “Wanting to get those younger kids off to a really strong start is really important to me.”

Being born to a long line of teachers, Oyedipe always knew teaching was in her blood, whether or not she wanted to accept it.

“I did not want to teach orchestra at first, I didn’t want to teach at all,” Oyedipe said. “All of my family were teachers and I wanted to do something different. I was determined to go in a different direction. I found out that I had the family teaching gene and I found out that I was good at it, and I love music, so that’s where it all started.”

Oyedipe’s teaching debut started at American Heritage Academy in Carrollton. She also worked at Bowman Middle School and Carpenter Middle School in Plano before coming to Hebron. According to Oyedipe, the change from middle to high school was drastic.

“The first thing you notice [about high school] is that the schedule is a lot more hectic, there’s a lot more competitions involved and it’s a lot more competitive.” Oyedipe said.

The annual Spring Show in May marked the last concert with Oyedipe as the orchestra director, as well as an end to an era.

“It’s just a brand new start for all of us, and not just for the seniors, all of us,” orchestra president and senior Zoie Keating said. “The entire orchestra basically has to start over and it’s just going to be new. In some ways it’s going to be fun, other ways it’s going to be tough.”

During the Spring Concert, Oyedipe’s students presented her with flowers and a speech praising her for the work she’s done at Hebron. Current vice president Ankita Padarthy even offered some advice for Oyedipe.

“As cheesy as it is, don’t change,” Padarthy said. “She’s an awesome teacher and she really knows how to bring in the classical side of things, but mix it with something fun. I think especially with middle schoolers, they’re going to love that.”

Currently, there is no replacement for Oyedipe as orchestra director as the school is still interviewing potential prospects for the position. Though slightly worried, Oyedipe said she has high hopes for the future of orchestra.

“I hope that [the new director] will be able to see what a great community this is and be able to appreciate the diversity of all the students we have here,” Oyedipe said. “I hope the kids will stay excited about strings and stay excited about orchestra. I hope they will be able to keep that going.”