#HathChat: Five Questions with Middle School Music Teacher Deb Southard

Welcome to #HathChat: In this new blog series, we’re featuring a Q&A with a different member of the Hathaway Brown faculty and staff. Bookmark hb.edu/blog for a new HathChat every other week! 

Another one of Hathaway Brown’s longtime faculty members — she started in 1982 — Deb Southard is the Middle School Music Teacher and Performing Arts Chair.  She teaches music classes, guitar ensembles, directs the fabulous Middle School Chorus, leads Hootenannies, and directs the annual 8th grade musical. In her free time, her Recorder Ensembles have performed in Germany and Austria, in addition to performing regularly throughout the Cleveland area. Read on to learn more!

Tell us about the path that you took and eventually led you to Hathaway Brown School.

I come from a very musical family so pursuing music seemed logical. My first teaching job was at the Munich International School in Germany. There, I taught K-12 music, attended every opera I could find, made life-long friends and was introduced to Orff Schulwerk which guided the rest of my career. I returned to the States to teach in Muskegon, Michigan and to be close to my family but after living in Europe for four years, that small town was not fulfilling my vagabond needs. Two of my friends who I taught with in Munich were teaching at Hathaway Brown School and recommended I apply for the Middle School music position. I walked into my interview with my guitar in hand. Once I laid eyes on HB I knew this was my new home. Then I met this really cute chemistry teacher named Don Southard. We got married in 1985 and neither of us can imagine our lives without HB in it! HB has made me a better teacher, a better parent, and a better person.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

I have the best job in the world! Each morning I walk into a silent music room and wonder what magic is going to take place in that space today. Every day, I get to sing, play guitar, recorders, drums, and dance with really smart, really adventurous, really fun Middle School girls. Even though I have been teaching at HB for 34 years, I still feel excited and challenged in my work. And there are no better colleagues in the world. They are brilliant, professional, and have become trusted friends. 


How do you stay creative and inspired?

I thrive on new ideas and HB is an endless source of inspiration. Collaborating with other teachers and working with HB girls always brings surprises and new challenges. In my personal life, I am always looking for new songs to sing and play. I play with the American Recorder Society, and I also sing in a small vocal ensemble called Round Circle. 

What is one thing most people might know about you?

I love to write and have always been an avid journal keeper. This year marks my 40th year of teaching. As a personal celebration, each day with my morning coffee I have been reading through my journal from my first year of teaching. It has been both nostalgic and surprising to re-read what I experienced and what I have learned over these years.

I also love coffee, hate coconut, love to kayak, hate to shop, love the Cedar-Lee Theatre, hate scary movies, love my family and friends, and hate negativity!

What school, career, or life advice would you give to students today?

My mother’s advice: Be interested and interesting!

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