In the fall of 1991, Dave Strom started teaching at Hillcrest Lutheran Academy. Twenty-three years ago he stepped into the classroom for the first time as the choir director. Now, Mr. Strom is pursuing pastoral leadership. Throughout his years at Hillcrest, Mr. Strom has led the choir from coast to coast. He has created a legacy of professionalism in the fine arts that is a hallmark of Hillcrest Academy’s Music Department.
Teaching for twenty-three years creates many opportunities for influencing students. Mr. Strom notes that a highlight every year is graduation as he is honored to see the culmination of the work students have accomplished in the music program. He talks about the many students who have come to him over the years and thanked him for their time in choir and other classes. He has even had the chance to officiate three or four weddings and has also played music at a few others. Mr. Strom, known for his quick sense of humor, comments, “Hopefully, I helped more than hindered the students in their education at Hillcrest.”
Teaching is especially enjoyable for Mr. Strom when students discover how to improve in performing their music. Mentoring them through this process, specifically traveling with the students on the Easter tours, allows him the opportunity to know the students in a powerful way. It isn’t the rehearsals that make the experience enjoyable for Mr. Strom, but the opportunity to go on tours, visiting different parts of the country, watching students grow and mature as musicians. He notes, “Playing live is a good experience for performers, especially in a tour setting.”
In addition to the interaction with students, a fun part of his job is the relationships with other faculty. Over the years he has become close to many of the faculty members and has had the opportunity to form lasting relationships. It is something special that Mr. Strom will never forget.
Teaching at Hillcrest provides every teacher and staff member with opportunities to further God’s kingdom, and each teacher may never know to what extent he or she has done this. Only God truly knows the extent of what we have done. “I want students to be the best that they can,” said Mr. Strom. “I try to help students develop a good work ethic and help students walk in the way of wisdom with God.”
Before Mr. Strom came to Hillcrest, he was an associate pastor at Community of Joy Lutheran Brethren Church in Eagan, Minnesota. Pastoring for two years, Mr. Strom felt called do something with his musical talent. He graduated in 1987 from The University of Northern Iowa with a Masters of Music, and sought to utilize his education. This passion led him to Hillcrest Academy, where he started his formative role as the choir director. Now, he teaches not only concert choir, but also cantabile, and piano and voice lessons. His pastoral background has opened doors for him to instruct Bible classes during his tenure at Hillcrest.
Outside of teaching, Mr. Strom has a variety of hobbies he enjoys developing. A traveling band enables him to play music in many different styles for a myraid of audiences in the summer. Jazz, classic rock, and contemporary chart toppers give him a musical outlet during the summer weeks, as he joins his church sundays to play the organ. “I have a pretty wide taste of music,” said Mr. Strom. “I enjoy really good song writing no matter what the genre is.”
Mr. Strom also enjoys working on his lawn, golfing, and a variety of other activities. He plans to get back into some good reading as he is going back into church ministry as he resigns from his role at Hillcrest in May. Although he doesn’t have a specific job yet, he is looking forward to what the coming months have in store for him. Mr. Strom believes that “God is really moving in this way.” His time at Hillcrest has been a movement in itself, taking Hillcrest’s choir to a new level in performance through his disciplined mentorship with the musicians.
--Story adapted from HLA Today Issue 11 | Written by Brandon Doering--