Traveling Tunes: Teacher to go on European trip to learn about composers


Janie Richardt will travel to Germany, Austria, Hungary and New Mexico to learn about composers, attend music festivals and perform with the First Coast Winds Symphony. (Photo by Anna Skinner)

By Anna Skinner

From Munich to Leipzig in Germany, from Salzburg to Vienna in Austria, then to Fertod in Hungary, Janie Richardt will travel Europe to learn about various musical composers and perform with the First Coast Winds Symphony based in Jacksonville, Fla. The St. Maria Goretti music teacher will then travel back to the U.S. where she will attend the Chamber Music Festival in Santa Fe, N.M.

Janie Richardt directs the St. Maria Goretti band during a holiday concert.

The $12,000 trip was made possible by a Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity Fellowship grant,  which Richardt received in December.

“I will get a greater knowledge of composers and enthusiasm for music and bring that back to the classroom,” she said. “I will culminate next school year with the band performing a great composers concert, where I pick age-appropriate music of the great composer and perform for the school and public, in general.”

Richardt teaches music in grades K through eight, with three bands. She applied for the grant once before but didn’t receive it.

Richardt’s son, Josh, will pay his own way to Europe to aid his mother in documenting her trip with a video camera, which she will show to her students upon returning. The entire trip, including the music festival in Santa Fe, will last four weeks.

“The documentary is for the kids to bring back to the school,” Richardt said. “I’m hoping they can see their teacher saying where Mozart was born and showing them where he grew up. I’m doing it as a legacy, I guess, to leave at the school.”

Richardt has taught at St. Maria Goretti for 11 years and has taught music at various schools across the U.S.

“I’m very excited to be going and for this opportunity to explore the lives of the composers and perform in Europe,” she said. “It’s a dream come true, to perform with other professional musicians and the Vienna Orchestra, that’s like a dream come true for me. I’m hoping that’s something I can give to my students. If you have a dream, you should persevere. You should not give up.”

Janie Richardt is a music teacher at St. Maria Goretti in Westfield. She can play the flute, piano, guitar and trumpet. (Photos by
Anna Skinner)

Richardt also plays for the Indy Winds Flute Choir. Besides playing the flute, she plays guitar, piano and trumpet.

“It’ll be so great to sit around with musicians of this symphony I don’t know,” she said. “I do that already with the Indy Winds Flute Choir, but this will be great because it’ll be multiple different instruments, which will be so fun.”

Richardt said although she can’t certain, she likely won’t reapply for the grant again. The Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity Fellowship grant is awarded to 100 K-12 Indiana teachers each year.

“These dedicated teachers, principals, counselors and media specialists have designed inspirational projects that promise to strengthen them personally and professionally,” Sara B. Cobb, the Endowment’s vice president for education, stated in a press release sent to Current. “For three decades now, we at the Endowment have learned how important it is for educators to have time and space to create and explore. They have shared with us that they return to their schools with a greater commitment to their students and the vocation of education.”

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Other Westfield fellowship grant recipients

In addition to Janie Richardt, a K-8 music teacher at St. Maria Goretti, two other Westfield teachers also received a $12,000 Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity Fellowship grant.


Lindsay Frey – Frey, an art teacher at Westfield High School, is using her grant to attend chalk pastel workshops and create drawings while traveling to Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.


Christy Ulsas – Ulsas, a counselor at Westfield High School, will volunteer at animal conservation and rehabilitation projects in Brisbane and Cairns, Australia.

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