Moffat County School District choir director Heather Dahlberg is more than just another new teacher. The former actress and singer is an inspiration to everyone around her, including students, friends, and family. Her impressive background in the field of fine arts along with her effective and unique teaching methods make her an ideal new faculty member to MCHS. Dahlberg’s strong opinions on the importance of fine arts, ability to connect with her students, and extensive experience all come together, creating an immense positive impact on the lives of every student she works with.
Students that work and have worked with Dahlberg all seem to have similar positive opinions of her. Not only has she been an excellent mentor, but her exceptional personality has shown through as well. Senior Emmi Hall says, “She’s real. Her abundance of knowledge has come from the experiences and mistakes she’s made. The fact that she can admit that and still hold her head high is really admirable to me. She is who she is and no other person will change that. To me, that says personality. Plus, she has a cute wardrobe. A teacher with style always makes an impact!” Some of the most commonly used words to describe her are honest, energetic, funny, and relatable - traits which she uses in her teaching methods as well as her everyday character. “She puts a lot of energy into her teaching and keeps everything upbeat and fun,” says senior Kyra McClellan. She genuinely cares about the kids she works with and has no problem putting in extra effort to help her students succeed. Many seniors say they are upset to have to leave now that she has been introduced into the district and will miss working with her both in and out of class. Senior Tucker Trujillo says, “She inspired me to become myself. She’s one of those people who make others shine to their fullest potential. She gave me the final push to decide that I want my career to be acting based. I could never thank her enough for what she has done for me in only one year. I only wish I had more time with her.”
Whether it means applying the history of performing to Social Studies and English or connecting on-stage acting with Science and Mathematics, Dalhberg believes that the fine arts are an excellent link to schoolwork. “I think the fine arts are important because you can apply them to all kinds of academics. It gives students a very well-rounded appreciation for school.” When it comes to acting, she expresses the fact that all aspects of art become involved. Not only is the art of acting used, but creativity from props, costumes, and set designers, makeup artists, and tech crews all work together to create one show. This way, all types of artists have a place to be appreciated. She tells us that performing opens students' eyes to the importance of teamwork and goal setting in the ways that everyone must work together to create the best product possible. In turn, this gives students a better understanding of extracurricular activites they may not be involved in.
Along with the school-related benefits of performing, participation in the fine arts gives kids an opportunity to achieve a large amount of personal growth. She claims that it gives somewhat outcast students a place to feel welcome and accepted. Freshman Caitlin Harjes is a perfect example of this. By working with Dahlberg, she’s gained confidence and a better understanding of her artistic abililties. “I would’ve never tried out for the plays or the musical but I felt welcomed by her. She helped me realize all the potential talent in theatre I have,” says Harjes. She has had the same effect on many of the kids shes worked with. Dahlberg explains, “It can even go as far as giving them a reason to stay in school, because they feel that they finally have a purpose to be here.”
As a child, Dahlberg grew up in a home with a very artistic family. “My mother was a pianist, and each child was expected to know how to sing, dance, or play an instrument,” she says. People whom she spent time around often told her she had no chance of making it as a singer, dancer, or actress because of her looks. Despite the harsh views made by her peers, Dahlberg continued to practice her hobbies and participated in local musical theatre as much as possible. During one of her local shows, she was noticed by a director and offered a job as a replacement for Rizzo, a character in the musical Grease. She accepted the offer and joined the show, kicking off her career as a professional actress. Since then, she’s starred in numerous stage productions and worked alongside many famous actors, including television stars from the show One Tree Hill and actors from old Batman movies.
Now done with professional acting, Dahlberg is fulfilling her lifelong aspiration of being a teacher. In the future, her biggest dream is to be an art director of a major theatre company or to have her own fine arts school. She tells us, “I know it seems like such a big deal to have me as a teacher in Moffat County, but really, I’m just a dime a dozen.” But to most of us here at MCHS, she's one in a million.