LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Janita Ducharme

Position: Director of Choirs
School: Cumberland High School
School District: Cumberland Public Schools
City, State: Cumberland, RI

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Janita Ducharme was nominated by a former student who wishes to remain anonymous.

"I have this urge to show people there is love in the world, especially when they are surrounded by nothing but loss or hate."

This is a philosophy that Ms. Ducharme has fulfilled every day at Cumberland High School. Going into her 5th year at CHS, she has rebuilt the music department, where she teaches choirs and music theory, and is the advisor of the Tri-M Music Honors Society. In a town dominated by sports, Ms. Ducharme is breaking new ground as an academic leader in the music department. She is branching out into the community, bringing music to new locations within town. She hosts annual choir performances at a local theater and has her choirs attend "all chorus night” to inspire younger students and allow the community to witness talented musicians in the area.

As a teacher, she is committed to excellence, and her lessons extend beyond the confines of classroom walls. Ms. Ducharme is actively involved in her school and community, where she co-manages the All-State Junior Mixed Choir, founded Cumberland Children’s Chorus, and is a member of NAfME and ACDA. She is also pursuing her Masters in Music Education to further her education in order to improve the lives of her students. Within an academic year, she sacrifices around 2,100 hours of her time to rehearsals, concerts, and lending assistance. This time with her students is done out of pure heart. She’s the epitome of what a dedicated educator should be.

A couple years ago, on the day of a concert, Ms. Ducharme was taken by ambulance to the hospital, and her comment to the EMT was 'I’m going back, I have a concert to conduct.' It's this mentality that has helped her choirs rank at local and national music festivals. Ms. Ducharme's goal as a teacher is to lead her students to a point where they no longer need instruction; that they understand the material so well, they can learn and teach themselves or one another.

"Ms. Ducharme spends the year working to improve student skills, mulling over the same piece of music for hours until we know it in our sleep. She believes in us in moments when we have no faith in ourselves and prevents us from ever giving up, posing difficulties as challenges to overcome. I've learned to be proud of the work I offer the world. She helps me to face my fears, pushing me out of my comfort zone." the nominator said.

Ms. Ducharme creates a beautiful classroom atmosphere for her students. She leads by example, creating authentic relationships, celebrating differences, and taking care of students as if they were her own. Students mirror her values by constantly caring for and helping each other, personally and musically. Her classroom is a microcosm of the true beauty in the world. People of different races, religions, culture, and political opinion come together to share a bond of music under her instruction. She is a first-generation American on her father’s side - having grown up around immigrants and culture, she shares some of her Asian heritage wit her students through food and stories. Students feel comfortable sharing personal information with one another in her classroom.

"Ms. Ducharme teaches us to love our differences while communicating and collaborating to bring a piece of music to life. It is a room of open minds and open hearts," her nominator said. "Frankly, I have never encountered people as supportive and accepting of each other."

Ms. Ducharme is a friend, mentor, and confidant. Her students turn to her often, even as former students, when they need advice or simply a shoulder to cry on. She is consistently there every time her students need her.

Ms. Ducharme makes her classroom a safe place for everyone to express themselves freely, and she notices when something is off with one of her students. She cares so much for the students within her classes and choirs. Her advice is gentle yet realistic, and her soul has lived a thousand times over. Her laugh is contagious, eliciting a smile on the most sour of days, and her rare hugs are healing. She is the type of person who, if you need her, would drop everything to come help. Any student who crosses paths with her leaves her a better person.

"This woman’s fibers are made of love, passion, and persistence," her nominator said. "Ms. Ducharme is dedicated to changing this world; she forgoes regards for herself to help others. Fire is the only way to describe her: in her devotion, in her love, in her passion. In everything she is. Her impact is unquantifiable, even this essay does her little justice, and she is the type of person I long to be like. She brings more love to this world every day and the field of education is lucky to have her."


Janita Ducharme in the News:
CHS music teachers Ducharme, Feroce nominated as LifeChangers

Comments (14)

Mr. Feroce Posted over a year ago

Keep up the great work, Miss. Ducharme !

Anonymous Posted over a year ago

Ms.Ducharme has grown the love and appreciation in Cumberland high school and within the Cumberland community. She is selfless and doesn't get the recognition she deserves, there isn't one teacher in the high school that teaches music with a passion other than her. She is taking her chorus to sing for patients in the oncology wing of a local hospital and to perform at functions town-wide for many organizations. Ms.Ducharm doesn't only teach her students music, however, she also makes sure to instill in her student's morals and how important it is to be kind to everyone, to be inclusive of everyone no matter what differences that they have, but most importantly she teaches her students that their differences are what make you beautiful and unique. The real music department Life Changer

Cindy Otis Posted over a year ago

Yay for Janita! A very caring, awesome person and teacher! Her students just adore her and will do anything for her. She has really brought out the best in CHS Chorus/Clef Singers! I really enjoy all the beautiful singing during the school day when they rehearse outside of my office....she has my vote!

Molly Cabatingan Posted over a year ago

Ms. Ducharme is not only a musical educator, but a life mentor. She can somehow flawlessly teach a student to not just sing or play the notes on the page, but to integrate emotion into their music. She encourages students to bring beauty to the world through music and is extremely accepting of everyone. She works tirelessly to create a diligent work environment, but also a tight-knit community for her students. Ms. Ducharme is an amazing role model and is undoubtably worthy of the title "Life Changer".

Anonymous Posted over a year ago

What floors me the most about Ms. Ducharme is her ability to communicate with and integrate into her classes the students who have language difficulties and learning differences. She believes and lives that EVERYONE can bring beauty to the world.

Max Amadio Posted over a year ago

Amazing chorus teacher, so happy to be taught under her.

Amber Duffy Posted over a year ago

Miss. Ducharmes’ dedication to both her students, and music is unlike any other. Her will to miss a lunch period so a student have someone to talk to about their hardships, or staying until it is past dark to get concert programs, and practice tracks ready for us all is an absolute inspiration. Her dedication does not stop just at the doors of our beloved choir room. As an amateur photographer, her dedication to photography is inspirational. JD has taught all of us the power of music, and how much of a difference our voices and we as people can make. Recently, she told us a story of a woman who came to one of our concerts, and told her it had made her Christmas, and how it also may be her last christmas. With tears in everyone’s eyes, she then followed the story with explaining how important our concerts truly can be, and that we never know when we can reach someones who’s suffering and make them feel better. Personally, Miss. Ducharme has shown me that although it may be difficult, following your passions is always the right choice. I know I can speak for all of Miss. Ducharmes’ students when I say she is the light in the dark and scary tunnel that is high school.

Tina Melo Posted over a year ago

As the founder of THE MELO PROJECT RUNWAY FOR YOUTH. My mission is the same as yours to educate through the arts...I applaud you fellow sister for accomplishing what all classes should be like.. Beautiful and Bravo.... Would love to meet you. I am uniting all like-minded teachers in the Arts & Music.. Tina Melo Cumberland High alum 82

Bruce Bates Posted over a year ago

Janita is a fantastic educator. More than just enthusiastic and outgoing (which she is) she has the respect and admiration of all of her students. The improvement in their music arts is not only tangible but they grow in courage and take risks in music that they never would dare to do on their own. She has that wonderful combination of love and discipline which all the great teachers have. I know for my daughter she functioned as the number 1 mentor of her life. Though Janita does not seek or recruit it,she naturally is mentoring students near and far. She is inspiring students to think a life with music and education and love and caring can be their life as well. She is truly worthy of great honor!

Rhonda Ducharme Posted over a year ago

Wow! Reading such beautiful words, about my only child, just completely fills my heart with pure joy, she's also very modest, lol as she was growing up, when s brought home awards, etc.. I would always tell her how wonderful she is, and she would say, you're just saying that, because you're my Mom. Well of course, but just so you know almost everything I told her, is in this nomination, and I haven't even met the young lady who wrote it. I would be totally honored to see my beautiful hearted daughter receive this award. I love you Janita

Derek Durante Posted over a year ago

Dear Reader, I am more than proud to write this recommendation for Janita Ducharme. Janita has developed a strong reputation at Cumberland High School as an inspirational, versatile, and dedicated teacher. Another element of her professionalism is how caring she is. Janita establishes positive teacher-student relationships that impact the the student beyond the classroom. Janita is a tremendous educator, but an even better person. Her character makes her one of the most effective teachers I have ever worked with. Sincerely, Derek Durante

Sheila Loureiro Posted over a year ago

I met Miss Ducharme when she was teaching at Cumberland Middle School. I am a grandparent of one of her students from middle school. She is one of the most amazing teachers I have ever met. Her dedication is over 100%. I agree with everything her student posted above. Yes, education is lucky to have her

Shayna Lemois Posted over a year ago

There is no one more deserving of this award than Ms. Ducharme. You come across teachers all the time that only do the bare minimum, never trying to connect with their students. JD is not one of these teachers. She truly cares about each and every one of us, taking time out of her personal life to make practice tracks so we can better ourselves as musicians, using her lunch break to talk to her students who might've had a bad day one on one, and she puts in the effort to get to know all of us. On top of everything else she's the most talented musician I know, and it really shows through in her teaching.

Karen Guerrier Posted over a year ago

Who ever the author was could not have described Ms Ducharme any better. She is an amazing woman dedicated to her passions: Music and Children!!