Dr. Park’s sudden departure leaves students disoriented

By: Eric Han, Editor-in-Chief

A month has passed since Dr. Josephine Park’s resignation, but students have yet to adapt to this rather sudden turn of events.

“I didn’t know what to feel,” admitted junior Yerim Kim. “I was sad, shocked, worried, and a bit angry at the same time.” Others students also voiced their initial surprise and concern.

“None of us knew the reason she was leaving so abruptly,” claimed Caleb Kim, a senior. Despite this, students showed their appreciation and support for her decision. Senior Sarah Kil commented, “I was upset, but I think in the end, I kind of respect and understand her position.” She continued, “I was able to trust that she had good reasons for it…She’s not someone who would leave something behind for an insignificant reason.”

Dr. Park accomplished quite a substantial amount for the music department during her four years of instruction. Ms. Melissa Lyons, a fellow music instructor, reported, “She’s had KAIAC Gold, she’s had Platinum Vocal Winners, so she’s attained some of the highest achievements you can get in KAIAC music.” According to Ms. Tiffeney Brown, the Secondary Principal, she has gone above and beyond, leading a “significant movement at GSIS.” She added that her leadership and strength of character have led to greater student participation, specifically noting her ability to “build confidence in a lot of students that probably would never have stepped up on a stand and sung any note.”

In addition to her accomplishments as a teacher, Dr. Park has also touched the minds and hearts of students under her tutelage. “Aside from just being a teacher, I think she was a crucial part of developing who I am,” Sarah mentioned. Senior Hannah Seo confessed Dr. Park was, to her, another family member. “When my aunt passed away, she actually came to the funeral.” For many students like Whitney Park, a junior, their decision to pursue a career in music was influenced by Dr. Park’s knowledge and constant support.

As Caleb describes, Dr. Park was also “a good companion. From the beginning of last year when we first had class with her, she always made sure that she was getting to know us on a personal level, and class with her was always really casual and easygoing.” He recalled, “I remember last year she even took a few of us out to eat bingsoo (빙수) with her.”

Students from the DP concert rush up to the stage during the chorus of "All You Need is Love". Students dedicated this song to Dr. Park, as this was the final performance of the night.
Students from the DP concert rush up to the stage during the chorus of “All You Need is Love”. Students dedicated this song to Dr. Park, as this was the final performance of the night.

Dr. Park’s departure initially left quite a number of classes with no instructor in place; however, in order to cope with the situation, other music teachers stepped up to fill these vacant positions. Ms. Brown reported, “Ms. Lyons currently has gone from five to seven classes, Ms. [Kimberly] Joslyn — the same — has gone from five to seven classes, and Ms. [Cindy] Choi, from five to six.” Ms. Choi has also assumed the role of Music Director in the upcoming musical, Oklahoma!, to help ensure its success. Ms. Brown remarked, “It makes it hard for the current staff, but they were just so ready to pitch in and help out.”

Furthermore, the school has found and offered a contract to a candidate who, due to her current contract, will join the community in January. With the confidentiality of the matter, students expressed both their anxiety and anticipation for what is to come.

“Academically it’s definitely very impacting, because as a senior I have my IB Music Exam at the end of the year,” Sarah revealed. “It’s a bit nerve-racking for me that I won’t be able to wrap up the year with her.” Caleb reinforced her feelings of concern, worried as to how they will need to adapt to the new teacher’s methods. “I think it’s going to be really hard for me to adjust to having class without her. DP Music is a really difficult course, so I’ve gotten used to the way she [Dr. Park] taught particularly. Overall, though, I think the class will just feel empty without her.”

Two months remain before the arrival of the new music instructor. Not much can be known with certainty, but students, teachers, and parents alike are all waiting to see what additions she will make to the community. Hannah noted, “She has big shoes to fill — I know that for sure.”