Singing the Praises Of Children

To Marcella Yedid, head of the Key School, finding her way to Annapolis makes perfect sense. Born in Greece, she spent her early childhood in a city near the water and now, decades later, she is calling yet another waterside city home. "Everywhere you turn in Annapolis there is water. That's a wonderful thing and a wonderful way to live," says Yedid.

Water, however, was just one of many qualities of living that drew Yedid to Annapolis. The major attraction was what she saw as an excellent opportunity at the Key School. "It's a fabulous school with such a community feel. I fell in love with both the school and the city."

Yedid's memories of her life in Greece are filled with family. "We were part of a lovely, close-knit extended family. Although my mother lost her family during the war, my father and his brothers survived by hiding," she says. Those four brothers each had two children, and that meant lots of cousins on hand. Her most cherished childhood memories, however, revolve around her grandmother. "I admired my grandmother tremendously. She had a real zest for life. Even though her life wasn't easy, she still was able to maintain a lovely spirit."

Although Greece was a happy place for Yedid, the country held many sad memories for her mother, and she began looking to the United States for a new beginning. When Yedid was 10 years old, her family pulled up stakes and headed across the Atlantic. "Where we ended up is kind of a funny story," Yedid says. "When the U.S. Consulate asked my mother who she knew in the country, my mother said she knew her former headmistress from college, who lived in Cleveland." Because of that answer, Cleveland, Ohio, was where Yedid's family was sent. Her mother, however, had had no contact with the headmistress for years, and when they arrived, the headmistress was long gone.

"My mother also had other motivations for coming to this country. She was a woman ahead of her time and wanted a life of her own. That was something that wasn't easy in Greece," says Yedid. In the United States, Yedid's mother fulfilled those dreams by pursuing her doctorate and teaching. In fact, her mother taught at the school Yedid attended as a child, the Laurel School, where she later began her own teaching career.

Yedid remembers her first year in the United States as a difficult one. She spoke no English, and, less than a month after her arrival, she was attending school. "Luckily, a wonderful teacher took me under her wing and helped me survive that year. It was hard at first, but thanks to the extraordinary hospitality of the school and that teacher, I succeeded."

In fact, she flourished. After high school, she finished her undergraduate degree from Indiana University in just three years--with a double major in opera and language. "At that time, I had visions of being a professional opera singer. I also loved language," she says. Although she spoke no English when she came to the United States, she could converse in Spanish, French and Greek. Her ancestors were originally Jews who were expelled from Spain during the Inquisition. They used the Spanish language---called Ladino---in their homes. Her knowledge of the French language results from the fact that all middle class Greeks of that era learned French, then considered the international language. Greek was the language of every day life.

Yedid's dreams of singing professionally ended though when her father died. She describes it as a moment of consciousness. "I had to look at what lay ahead for me and how I was going to earn my keep. I turned to teaching." She decided to continue to train her voice on the side but also to see where teaching could take her. Now, 34 years later, she still has what she describes as the "teaching bug."

During her college years, another life-altering event occurred when Yedid met her husband Roger, a fellow Brown student. Yedid and her husband were both working on their master's degrees, and the couple met at a language department party. "We saw each other from across the room and were attracted. The next thing I knew I was making him stuffed peppers," she says. According to Yedid, those peppers sealed the deal. She says marrying her husband, who was born in Egypt and whose mother spent some time in Greece, was like returning to her roots. "We have a common background. It was like finding a bit of the past."

After they were married and Yedid had completed her degree, she and her husband returned to Cleveland, where her husband still resides. (They have what Yedid calls "a commuting marriage.") Yedid embarked on her teaching career and spent what little free time she had singing with the Cleveland Opera Company. During that period of time, Yedid performed and visited schools to introduce opera to children. Over the years, however, Yedid found it more difficult to find time for practice and decided to enjoy opera from the sidelines.

After teaching at her alma mater, the Laurel School, for 10 years, Yedid moved on to the Hawken School for the next 19 years, then to the University School for one more. She has been with the Key School for last four years. "The Key School is a very exciting place to be. We have children ranging in ages from 3 to 17, all on one campus. It's a wonderful intergenerational mix."

The Key School was established in 1958 by several tutors from St. John's College to promote individuality and to celebrate the full expression of ideas and points of view in both academic and non-academic areas. The school has a rigorous academic focus that seeks to develop an interest in learning and intellectual curiosity. According to Yedid, the school strives to foster and recognize excellence in all of its students through adult-to-student communications, both written and oral, rather than through use of such devices as academic awards and honor rolls.

Each year, when Yedid meets with seniors about to graduate, she says they often comment about the strong sense of community they experienced at the Key School. "They tend to reflect on the types of friendships they have fostered over the years both with their peers and their teachers and how these relationships have affected their learning experience in a positive way," she says.

Though it was hard to give up her dreams of becoming an opera singer, Yedid has no regrets. She loves working with young people and helping to equip them for the future. "I believe education is all about making a difference in the world. I hope that through my many years of teaching I have helped transform the world into better place."


What event in the Annapolis area are you most looking forward to in 2006?

Powerboat Show
Sailboat Show
Renaissance Festival
Seafood Festival
County Fair

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