Room 270, the Choir Room, has always been one of the many safe havens for the students of Oakland Mills. This room had formerly belonged to Mrs. Elpus, one of the student body’s favorite teachers. Yet, in her absence she has left someone just as enthusiastic, heart-warming, loving and hardworking as she. Mr. Edryn Coleman is a young, passionate teacher born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama. He was brought up with all of the values that come with being born in the South––faith, positivity, manners and of course, respect. Since a young age, he has been involved in many choirs. He says that it all began within his church which soon branched out to become a multitude of choral endeavors. He was a part of school choirs, honor choirs, and all-state choirs. “Any choir I could be in, I was in,” Coleman stated joyfully. He attended Stillman College in Alabama, a historically black college or university (HBCU). Coleman stated that being apart of an HBCU was a “liberating” experience.
Although Mr. Coleman is new to Oakland Mills (OM), he is not in fact new to teaching. When asked how long he has been teaching he responded with a simple “twenty years.” Within those two decades, he has taught at two elementary schools, one middle school, two colleges, and now one high school. He explained that he wanted to experience every level of teaching that he could simply because he can. Coleman identifies teaching as his passion, saying that “it is my calling. It comes easy because I love doing it completely and totally.” For Coleman, the opportunity to teach choral music is something he cannot describe. He says simply that: “It is a way to share my music with my students.” He connects to his students who may not have the same love or passion for choral music as others by finding things that they like to sing and being honest. He wants his students to be able to relate to him and understand him, this normally helps students stay connected to his passion. He says, “Hey, come and give it your best shot––I want to do everything I can to do the best for you.”
It was a huge shock when the community heard that Mrs. Elpus would no longer be the Oakland Mills Choir teacher, but she knew what she was doing when she contacted Mr. Coleman for the job. Mr. Coleman had known Mrs. Elpus for a while and had been preparing to move schools behind the scenes. Mrs. Elpus wanted her students to have someone that she trusted completely and knew would do well for the choral program. Mr. Coleman knew wholeheartedly what big shoes he had to fill when moving schools. “Yes, I was nervous moving schools because of the established program, strong community, and attached kids. I have to prove that I am invested. I want people to trust me and know that I am here to do well by everyone.” Coleman loved OM because of its diversity and incredible sense of community. He was very excited to be given this opportunity and plans to use it to his advantage in order to make those within the choral programs feel safe and taken care of. As for the future of OM Choir, Coleman wishes for the groups to sing for a National Conference and for the Vocal Ensemble to be viewed as prestigious and advanced as Chamber Choir. When questioned how long he planned on teaching at Oakland Mills, he replied with an enthusiastic, “I plan on retiring from this place!”