Thank you, Ms. Stier <3

Emily Book

“Good afternoon WOSWE!” 

“Good afternoon Ms. Stier!” 

“Good afternoon Mrs. Florip!” 

“Good afternoon Mrs. Florip!” 

Sixth grade girls night out.

   This everyday greeting has been engraved in my brain since I was eleven years old, coming into West Ottawa choir for the first time. Erin Stier, Director of Choral Music at West Ottawa, has been my choir teacher for five years (6th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th). This year heart wrenchingly marks my fifth and final year with Stier. For five years, Stier has been so much more than a choir director to me, she’s been a true friend. 

   From being in a rowdy choir full of over 80 sixth graders to being in both of the top ensembles at WOHS, I can thank Stier for getting me to the point I’m at today, musically and personally. But first, musically. 

   Coming into choir for the first time, I only knew how to simply sing my favorite songs. I knew nothing about the ins and outs of the voice, song meanings, music vocabulary, musicality, or anything of the sorts. Now, even though I may not be an expert, I have so much more knowledge and passion for music. My knowledge and love for music has inspired me to minor in music in college next year; I couldn’t be more excited. 

Ms. Stier and I after the first showing of Elf the Musical.

  In terms of my personal growth over these five years, I give a lot of credit to Stier for helping me be the confident and strong woman I am today. Stier embodies every aspect of what it means to be a powerful woman. Not only this, but Stier truly cares about every single student she has. She has pushed me to be my best on multiple occasions, such as when she suggested I audition for Vocalaires. Even during the extremely challenging Covid years, Stier made sure we stuck together more than ever. 

   In class, we share “good things” about our lives at least once a week. We almost always have the option of sharing a “crappy” part of our life too. Stier has us share these things because she has a genuine interest in our lives and well beings. She also wants us to get to know each other on a deep level so we can connect to each other. This is why all of Stier’s choirs are so talented. Not all teachers show this much care for their students, but Stier certainly does. Choir is such a welcoming and family-like environment. 

   Stier truly makes every choir feel like a family. When I was an incoming sophomore, I made the decision to audition for West Ottawa Select Women’s Ensemble (WOSWE). I can wholeheartedly say that this was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. From my first day in WOSWE to my last, I have felt a home that no other class could ever bring me. I’ve always felt so loved and accepted by the other women in this choir. There’s no other class that I can laugh, cry, and not be judged in but this one. WOSWE is not a class, it is a family. Because of Stier, WOSWE has been such a safe space for me and for everyone. This connection that we have led us to be selected for All-State! This was only the second time in school history that a WOHS choir has accomplished this, so it was a pretty big deal. Lots of us have wonderful things we want to share about Stier.

The rusty gate we barely fit through.

   Before sharing others’ favorite memories of Stier, I need to share one of my favorites.

   One of my favorite memories of Stier was on our WOSWE retreat at the beginning of this school year. The whole retreat was extremely fun and an experience I’ll never forget, but a specific moment stands out. Shortly after arriving at the retreat center, Stier informed us that we were going on a peaceful half mile walk around the area. We began our walk and started taking pictures of each other and the beautiful scenery; we were having so much fun. About 30 minutes into the walk, we began to get tired and saw no end in sight. We all became a little confused and kept checking in with Stier to make sure we were on the right HALF MILE path. She kept saying yes, so we trusted her. Another 30 minutes passed when Stier realized that we were indeed on the wrong path; we were on the two mile path. Not only was this path longer, but it was more treacherous. This path included hills, narrow paths, and a rusty gate that was half open that we could hardly fit through. By the time we got back, we couldn’t help but die laughing because of what we just experienced. We were all super winded and exhausted, but we just couldn’t stop laughing. Now, this experience is a classic WOSWE inside joke. 

Proof that we walked two entire miles.

   Here are some words that fellow choir students wanted to share about Stier.

“I’ve had Ms. Stier in middle and high school choir and every year it’s been more and more fun. She chooses great songs for us to sing and creates an environment where everyone feels welcome. I’ve loved being a part of WOSWE for three years! Ms. Stier pushes us to do our best and always give more for each performance. I wouldn’t love choir this much if it weren’t for Ms. Stier.” -Sidney Hogan

“Over my time in high school choir, I’ve learned more about who I am and who I want to be and I give a lot of credit to Ms Stier for that; she pushes me and creates an environment in which I feel loved, accepted, and welcomed to grow and learn.” -Tana Haveman

WOSWE, Mrs. Florip, and Ms. Stier at All-State festival.

“I love being in choir because of the welcoming and kind environment that there is. I have grown such a strong bond with all of the girls and we are always there for each other. Ms Stier has been a big part of how well we get along and care for each other, and I’m very grateful for her.” -Danielle Lebster

“Ms. Stier has been one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. There is really no one like her. She holds such a special place in my heart. She is kind, passionate, and cares for every single one of her students like they are family. She has been there for me when I’ve been at my lowest and has supported me throughout all of the hard times. There really aren’t enough words to describe how much she truly means to me.” -McKenzy Hogan

A BeReal taken by Ms. Stier before class.

“Ms. Stier has helped me through so much. From mental health chats to cleaning the dog poop off of my shoe, she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty to help a student. Ms. Stier taught me not to let anyone tear me down and to always be myself no matter how strange that may be at times. She pushes me to be a better musician and inspires me to teach choir myself one day. A time Ms. Stier had my back was during Godspell auditions. Mr. Huber wasn’t thinking about calling me back and it was my first audition, but Ms. Stier gave me a chance and I was casted. That was my introduction to theater and to be honest I think if Ms. Stier hadn’t given me a chance, I wouldn’t be doing theater right now.” -Lauren Espy

“Ms. Stier has been so much more than just a choir teacher to me. Knowing her since 6th grade has been so amazing. She provides never ending support and is always there to help and listen. She has been a mentor for me and has helped me gain confidence in myself and my music abilities. She challenges and puts her students outside of our comfort zones in order to make us the best version of ourselves. Even when she is having a bad day, she works her hardest to be the best teacher possible. I want to thank Ms. Stier for always seeing in me what I couldn’t. I will miss her so much after graduating but I know it’s not a goodbye it’s just a ‘see you later.’” -Abby Hogan

Ms. Stier and the broken mirror.

“I have many amazing memories of Ms. Stier, but one of my favorite memories of Ms. Stier is definitely when the mirror fell. She had this amazing idea to put mirrors up so we could watch ourselves sing and work on our expressions. So she grabbed a mirror and placed it on the stand, but the weight of the mirror shifted the stand. The mirror fell and shattered all over the floor and shocked filled the room. There was silence then we all burst out in laughter, definitely one of my highlights. Overall, Ms. Stier is just an amazing person. She is very fun, yet focused on striving for perfection. I always feel comfortable talking with her. She is an amazing teacher, but also a great friend. She is super welcoming, and I’ve had an amazing year with her.” -Lorri Deur

“I remember we were rehearsing and all of a sudden Stier brings out a mirror so we can see our faces when we perform; and then suddenly she tips the music stand a bit too much and then we had a broken mirror. We were all in shock” -Isabella Grantham

“Ms. Stier is very aware of her students, what I mean by that is that it’s more than just surface level; she shares a connection where she knows if you are having a bad day and she’s there for you when you need it. She looks out for the well-being of her students.” -Grace Cronkright


   There’s something so special about Stier that is unlike any other teacher I’ve ever had. I will forever cherish the memories and life lessons shared with me throughout the years. Ms. Stier, I will never be able to thank you enough for all the joy and compassion you have brought into my life these past five years. You mean the absolute world to me and to so many others. Until we meet again. <3