By Meghana Avasarala
The PTSA awarded Ms. Reilly The 64th Annual Service to Youth Award for her extraordinary service to the children of the Williamsville Central School District, but she didn’t always plan on being a music teacher.
Ms.Reilly, the chorus teacher at our school, has been teaching at East for the past 28 years, and she has made a tremendous impact on all of the music students at East with her compassion and love. That is why it would come across as a shock when people learn that music education was not what she had initially planned for her career.
Even though she was heavily involved in music throughout school, she “never saw herself ever doing music.” She didn’t think she could make a career out of it and decide to do computer engineering. Her Highschool Music teacher at Orchard Park convinced her to take music as a career as she couldn’t see Ms.Reilly anywhere else. Convincing her parents was easy; they just wanted her to be happy.
Even though she knew she wanted to make a future out of music, young Maureen Reilly never saw herself as a teacher. After being accepted into the University at Buffalo, Ms.Reilly originally wanted to be a performer. After one particular drive with a friend she carpooled with and some advice, Ms.Reilly realized she needed a steady source of income. When her friend said,” You should do education, you’d be good at it! You have the personality for it.” It didn’t take much for Ms.Reilly to add education to her major. She hadn’t finished her student teaching when she was offered a job in Grand Island as a replacement teacher. She was then offered a position in North Tonawanda and then taught at Casey Middle until 1993, when she started teaching at Williamsville East High School.
Ms.Reilly is known for being the most loving person ever; Dr. Shewan, the band director at East, says, “She has been like a sister to me. We have worked side-by-side for 28 years. You will never find a more dedicated, hard-working professional who loves the students like she does. And, she is a tremendous musician.” When I asked her who she would switch places within the entire school, she said, “I would say one of the lunch ladies.” When asked why she replied, “Because I get to see a lot of different students I don’t see.”
While talking about the recent pandemic, I asked Ms.Reilly,” What is the most frustrating thing about teaching right now?” She told me about the hardships of not being able to hear all or interact with her students.
Outside of school, Ms.Reilly loves to garden; she recently moved back to OrchardPark, where she built a home. She still is in the process of planting a garden for herself. She also has a passion for interior decorating; she planned everything a person could imagine for her new home.
Any student new to East must know a few crucial things about Ms.Reilly: The first is that she has an extreme passion for music (she wants to spread her love and knowledge about music to anyone willing to learn and put in the effort); the second is that (she loves Harry Connick Jr.); and the third is that she is like almost every other teacher–she is a coffee person.