The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

From football to fugues

City College Music professor Kathleen Poe poses for a picture outside of Performing Arts Center. Christopher Williams // Staff photographer

Amber Whitaker | Guest Writer | [email protected]

Music department chair encourages students to not let obstacles stand in their way

Beside her desk is a brown push-pin corkboard with pictures telling the story of her life. She turns her head to look at them, staring at each one in turn. Her daughter in tap shoes in one. She playing tackle football in another. She glances over them as if counting to make sure they were all there. Turning away, a smile forms on her face, but not just any smile. It is a smile that tells a dual story of accomplishment and triumph.

Kathleen Poe, despite obstacles and a multi-occupational life, chooses to spend her time giving the gift of knowledge and empowerment to her students. Yes, she is a music teacher, but music is not where the lesson stops. She shows her students how music and perseverance can help lead to any goal their hearts are set on.

Poe, the City College music department chair, started teaching music on campus in 1996 before graduating from Sacramento State.

“I just went into music completely with my whole heart,” says Poe, now in her 40s. Poe composed a piece for a concert held in November 2014 by the City College Music Department.

“I think my students don’t really influence my composition as much as just events in my life,” says Poe, as she looks down at the floor, almost as if she were reliving the events in her mind.

Poe tells how running is a large part of her life, and how waking up every morning for her run and seeing the sunrise has influenced her in many ways.

“You see a lot of amazing things when you go running for long distances,” says Poe, who has run in the Boston Marathon. “It’s really hard to get up early when it’s still dark outside. But the tradeoff is pretty good.”

Poe was a student athlete who ran cross-country and track and field in college. As a professor, Poe played tackle football between 2003-2006 for a women’s semi-pro team called the Sacramento Sirens.

“When student athletes come to my class, and they think I don’t understand what they are going through, I absolutely do understand.” Poe states, “because I have done it, both as a student and as a teacher.”

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“Kathleen is very disciplined and dedicated to keeping in good health,” says Robert Knable, a City College music professor. “She challenges herself continually by running in marathons and charity runs. But I think it is also symbolic or representative of how she lives and works. I believe her students are aware of this and how she applies the same dedication to their learning about music.”

Poe reveals she is a recent breast cancer survivor, as well. When she describes her days of teaching and afternoon radiation treatments, the major passion this woman has for life and perseverance shines through. Even though life continues to throw her bad passes, she keeps catching the ball running and pushes hard to reach the end zone.

She seems proud to tell her story and happy to share, in hopes others will find the strength that she fought to find.

Poe’s passion isn’t something that goes unnoticed at City College.

“I greatly admire Kathleen because of her dedication to whatever endeavor she takes on,” says Kurt Shiflet, another City College music professor who is a professional musician in a local tribute band called Steelin’ Dan. “Be it woman’s professional football, long-distance running, acting, music, or her position as music department chair, she is in 100 percent.”

“Kathleen is most definitely one of the most disciplined and hard-working individuals that I have known.” he adds.

Back at her office, Poe turns her eyes again to the pictures on the board, staring at each one again, as if to find strength and truth in her next words.

“My bit of advice is, Just don’t give up. Don’t let something get you down because there is something always on the other side,” says Poe.

“Beethoven lost his hearing. One of the greatest composers of all time lost his hearing. But he persevered. That’s the type of thing that students can relate to.”

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