Beloved music educator humbled by honorary degree
Memorial University recognizing contributions of Maxine Stanley to the music community
GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL — Whether it’s helping students explore a new piece of music or presenting a choir to an eager audience, Maxine Stanley is known for the beautiful songs and sounds she develops and encourages.
Stanley, a dedicated and much-loved music teacher in Grand Falls-Windsor, will be awarded an honourary degree during the fall convocation ceremonies at Memorial University.
Stanley will be presented with an honorary doctor of laws degree at the Corner Brook Arts and Culture centre on Oct. 5. Stanley, along with 1,000 other graduating Memorial University students, will receive their degrees during the Grenfell Campus Memorial University fall convocation.
When Stanley found out she would be receiving an honorary degree she was shocked. Her former student Lesley Roberts said, “I wasn’t at all surprised because there is no one more deserving.”
Recipients of honorary degrees are chosen from nominations submitted to the senate (the university’s academic governing body) by the public. The honorary doctorate degree recognizes extraordinary contributions to society or the university or exceptional intellectual
or artistic achievement.
For close to 50 years Stanley has been a prominent figure in the music community in Grand Falls-Windsor.
Stanley may be best known for the nationally recognized youth choir she founded and directs, the Bel Canto Singers.
Stanley has dedicated so much of her life to young musicians in Grand Falls-Windsor, but more than that, she has become a confidante and role model to young aspiring musicians.
“As a young musician she was my biggest motivator and mentor and I feel that I owe some of my greatest accomplishments to her,” said former student Jenna Bragg. “Over the years she has played many different roles in my life, from the role model, to the firm enforcer, to the friend.
“It would be impossible to count the hours that Maxine has dedicated over the years to ensure her students are always prepared.”
Bragg went on to study music at Memorial University. She credits Stanley for helping her become the musician she is today, as Stanley always gave her the extra push she may have needed.
“I am truly grateful for everything Maxine has done for me over the years and am ecstatic that her selflessness and brilliance are being acknowledged in this way,” Bragg said.
Stanley has twice chaired the Central Newfoundland Kiwanis Music Festival, and every year went above and beyond, volunteering countless hours to her students.
In preparation for Kiwanis Music Festivals Stanley will give up her Saturday mornings to host master classes in her living room; where all of her students can come to rehearse with an audience of their peers. She offers this service free of charge whereas most studios charge a fee for this opportunity, Roberts told The Advertiser.
“There are people who come into our lives and forever leave a lasting impact, Maxine (is) one of these people for me. (She) inspired, empowered and supported her students in more ways than I can count,” said another former student, Sarah Miller.
After speaking with former students of Stanley’s, it is obvious she has developed a special relationship with each one of them.
“They’ve all been very special to me,” said Stanley.
Despite both the passing of time and distance, she still keeps in touch with her students.
“She always remembers to ask how things are,” Miller said. “I am so proud to have her in my life. (I am thankful] for (her) positive influence, knowledge and belief in us.
“Most of all for always making me smile and for showing me what the power of never giving up on what you love looks like.”
Roberts noted, “The work and dedication she has (shown) to the music community in Newfoundland speaks for itself. Mrs. Stanley is the first to get involved in many projects all across the island, and never expects anything in return - least of all recognition.
“She inspires confidence and discipline and imparts a love of music to all she teaches. I am so proud and can think of no one more deserving of this honour.”
Maxine Stanley will be honored at the Memorial University fall convocation ceremony where she will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree on Oct. 5.