#myJourney -- Stephan Botchie knew he wanted to play music since the fifth grade. He attended a “music night” hosted by his local school. “Almost everyone went for the woodwinds… My eyes focused in on the brass section. I wanted to play the tuba… so I went to the tuba, and a really big note came out of it.” Then he tried the trumpet. Then the baritone. That’s when Botchie decided, “I’m sold. This is it.”
Outstanding Young Music Educator
The excitement never let up. After graduating from Anderson University in 2008 with a degree in music education, Botchie began teaching band at Emerald High School and Westview Middle School, both located in Greenwood, South Carolina. His efforts in the classroom have earned him the “Outstanding Young Music Educator,” awarded in 2015 by the South Carolina Music Educators Association (SCMEA).
Nominated by one of Botchie’s professors in the South Carolina School of the Arts, the award not only looks at his classroom success, but also his resume as a performer. He’s a freelance musician in the Greenwood area, leads worship at his church, directs and performs in the local community theater, and participates in college ensembles and professional orchestras.
“If it’s music, I pretty much do it,” he says.
In addition to an AU music prof entering Botchie into the running, his Outstanding Young Music Educator nomination needed the support of a principal, a former student, and a parent. With their help, the SCMEA recognized Botchie’s passion and talent. It’s actually his second education award in a row: he won the Teacher of the Year Award at Emerald High School for 2014-2015.
West African Dance ensemble, percussion ensemble, and the theatre
At Anderson, Botchie majored in music education and while his primary instrument was the euphonium (a brass instrument), he tried to get as much musical experience as possible through AU: concert choir, wind ensemble, West African Dance ensemble, percussion ensemble, and the theatre.
“I knew I was going to teach all this stuff,” Botchie said, “so I tried to immerse myself as much as possible.”
His AU classroom experience was just as fulfilling.
“I loved all my music theory classes,” says Botchie. “They taught me to understand what’s behind the page, to understand the music.”
And of course, there’s his friend and mentor, former AU Director of Instrumental Activities Dr. David Stern.
“He taught me pretty much everything I could ever learn about band,” says Botchie. “For him, it was about the joy and the passion, and giving your everything to what you’re doing. He taught me little tricks on how to fix things on the fly, and a lot of imagery for concepts. I’ve used the same [imagery for my students]—it’s a good way of thinking about music that’s not black or white.”
A native of southeast Delaware, Botchie discovered Anderson by chance. He applied to a random selection of small schools with music programs, and AU happened to be one of them. After applying, he spoke with some music students and faculty. He felt like God was telling him, “Stephan, you really need to go to this school.”
Botchie decided on AU without even taking a tour. “I didn’t even see the campus until the night before I moved in,” he says. After seeing the campus, Botchie could tell it was perfect for him: “It was God’s plan for me to come.”
Dr. Stern is very proud of his student and friend. As he told the local news source Coastal Point, “Stephan is extremely dedicated to excellence in music teaching. He is the comprehensive educator and model for all of us. This is easily demonstrated by the recent Emerald High School Teacher of the Year award that acknowledges the respect and admiration of his school community, as well as the numerous greater community activities in which he participates.”
Botchie’s dedication to his students is easy to see: “When I’m teaching, and a kid plays a really nice chord, it’s like ‘wow, that’s a really mature sound coming from a seventh grade band class,’” he says. “I know it’s going to be a magical experience for the student and for everyone in the audience.”