Lafayette High School Choir Director Holly Grefe is now the 2019 WorldStrides Teacher of the Year.
Grefe was one of more than 750 teachers across the nation nominated for the award.
The announcement was supposed to be made during the school day at LHS, but class was cancelled because of severe weather. Getting Grefe back on campus was a team effort.
She thought she was going out for sushi. Little did she know her husband would make her stop at school on her day off.
“When we got into the building, I was walking her to the auditorium, and she was like, ‘Why are we going back here?” said Craig Andrus.
Current and former students and their parents packed the school auditorium to see Grefe be named WorldStrides Teacher of the Year.
“It’s shocking to know that I make that kind of impact on people, and I don’t see it that way at all,” said Grefe. “I’m just surprised and so humbled.”
Grefe came to Acadiana from Minnesota through the Teach for America program nearly 25 years ago.
“I’ve just been so blessed with great students and a great administration,” said Grefe.
Every year, Grefe molds more than 200 students into award-winning choirs.
“Every class, she immediately starts with singing. They are doing something the whole time. She has a purpose for every song, and she brings the best out of every student,” said former LHS teacher Joyce Menard.
Liam Doyle, a former choir student, said, “There’s a general joy about Holly Grefe that you don’t find in a lot of educators. It’s so rare and so infectious that it seeps out and impacts the rest of your life.”
Grefe’s students, including this reporter, say she pushes them not only to strive in school but all aspects of life.
“Music crosses all bounds,” said Grefe. “I’m so proud of all my students because they’re the newscasters, the doctors, the lawyers and the civil servants. Seeing that music brought them together is pretty inspiring to me.”
Grefe says at a time when there is so much divide in the world, she’s glad she teaches music and can continue spreading love.
“It has to be 100%. I think they really learn that in choir and having to work together to do that, to be that 100%, that every person matters,” said Grefe.
The trip she won is for seven to ten days anywhere in the world. She says at this point, she’s not too sure where she wants to go.