Rachel Dirks, orchestra teacher for 17 years at LHS, has made a lasting impact on her students and the orchestra program. However, at the end of this year, students will bid her farewell, as Dirks becomes director of orchestras at Kansas State University in the fall of 2018.
“I have enjoyed 23 wonderful years of teaching in the public schools of Kansas. I have recently been feeling that before I finished my career in music education, I would like to spend some time at the collegiate level,” Dirks said. “When K-State called and asked me to apply for the position, I felt like this was an opportunity I could not pass up.”
Before Dirks’ career at Lawrence High, she received her bachelor of arts from Bethel College and went on to receive a masters of music from the University of Texas at Austin. Dirks is currently working toward her doctorate degree at the University of Kansas and works alongside her husband, Mike Jones, head of the band program at Lawrence High.
“I was shocked when I found out, but I’m also excited for her, because I know she will do great things at K-State,” junior violinist Emily Guo said. “She’s definitely changed the LHS orchestra program for the better.”
After working 23 years in the Kansas public school system, Dirks said she’d miss the sense of community at Lawrence High, tradition that Lawrence High has continued to stand for and working with her husband.
“She’s genuinely one of the most kind and genuine people I’ve ever met in my life,” junior violinist Karenna Peterson said. “She is always reassuring when it comes to anything you’re doing. That’s what I will always remember, just how kind and supportive she was.”