Beloved band director Cynde Meyer is retiring after 40 years of teaching, 25 of which were spent at CVHS.
Over the years, this amazing woman has conducted an estimated 40 musicals, taught music in elementary through graduate school, and coached vocal as well as instrumental music in junior high and high schools across the state.
Her illustrious career began when she graduated from UC Santa Barbara, where she majored in rhetoric with a minor in Music and Drama. There she got her teaching credential and her career took off.
While still in Santa Barbara, she taught the women’s adult chorus for the Santa Barbara City College, as well as an instrumental music class, for three years.
In 1982, she got her master’s degree at Chico State University and returned to the Bay Area where she hooked a job at Martinez Junior High School.
It was in 1988 that she finally settled in Castro Valley as coordinator of music and began teaching at CVHS and Canyon Middle School as Band Director.
“In all honesty, the most significant thing I got out of that was that I wasn’t afraid of administrators anymore,” laughed Meyer. Indeed, she has been a strong advocate for student rights her entire teaching life, and isn’t afraid to speak up for the voiceless.
For her, the worst part about teaching isn’t the wiseguys in the drum section or the missed key signatures.
“It’s the busyness,” said Meyer passionately, speaking for the teachers of California as a whole. “It’s the endless accountability that’s required of students and of teachers. We’re going through the motions of teaching these kids, but we’re feeding them with an empty spoon, and that gets in the way of making connections.”
Connections. That’s a big thing with Meyer: making connections with the students, with the music, and with each other. This explains her favorite part of the job.
“My favorite part of the job is the kids,” Meyer stated definitively. “It’s like taking raw material and making art out of it. It’s exciting and lasting and valuable.”
After 40 years of teaching, Meyer is full to bursting with memories, ranging from tear-jerking to head-slapping, but some of her favorites were the ones that made her laugh.
From trombone players emptying their spit valves onto the drummers below during a football match (“It’s okay, dude. Spit happens”), to clever middle schoolers hopping hotel balconies at night to avoid getting caught by the chaperones when on a band trip to Disneyland, Meyer had no shortage of laughs in her many years of teaching.
“Your guys’ spirits kept mine up,” reflected Meyer on her experiences. “You kept me buoyant when it was sometimes hard to keep swimming.”
She will be sorely missed by the CVHS bands. Many a tear was shed at the last concert of the year by students, parents, and Meyer alike. Her students wish her the very best of luck in whatever she sets out to do, which currently involves getting her master gardener’s license and continuing to watch over her former pupils from afar.
“I am always learning, and I will always be learning, whether from school or from my students. It just makes life richer in every way,” she reflected.