For the last 32 years, Mark Bidelman has served as the school's primary music educator, and today, that means teaching 165 teens in four choirs how to harmonize. "We've always had a big commitment to music here," he says. Mark will be retiring at the end of the school year. Words cannot express the gratitude and dedication that Mark has given to Soquel High.
We wish him well. Mark's shoes will be hard ones to fill.
We need alumni to send their support to our principal via email or letters to continue the program at the level it is currently at so that Soquel High strives to be a leader in music education.
A Chat with Mark.....
How long have you been teaching?
Mark: I have been teaching since 1977 , 2 years a sub then 32 proud years at Soquel High!
Where did you grow up at, and attend school?
Mark: I was born in Watsonville and have spent my entire life in Santa Cruz County
Watsonville High School. Cabrillo College AS in Biology, UCSC BA in Vocal Performance
Did you always want to teach?
Mark: Teaching was a fall back from hopes of singing opera... I thank the Houston opera company for directing me to the career I was meant to do. I believe teachers are born, and I was lucky enough to find what I was supposed to do! I couldn't imagine doing anything else in my life.
What was your most memorable experience at Soquel High?
Mark: So many......... Maybe getting a full time job or the thousands of students that I have grown to love.
What music festival most the most memorable to you?
Mark: I guess it would be the Santa Cruz Jazz Festival, It has become somewhat of a symbol for Soquel Music student pride .
Which festival was the most challenging?
Mark: The challenge for me was that so many festivals had to pick a Winner. Music can be very competitive in the professional level but I don't think it should be at the high school level. There is just no way to score and compare. High school students should just be encouraged to explore their art without the worry of being chastised for the results. Unlike math or language arts there are many correct answers and our students should be able to try them all. It was always important to get the students to evaluate based on what they were trying to do, not just what someone else wanted them to do.
What are you most looking forward to when you retire?
Mark: Not having to deal with so much of the unrealistic demands and criticisms heaped on teachers by people that just don't understand. It gets very old defending your existence in the educational world by people that don't teach.
GIVING BACK TO TEACHERS WHO GIVE BACK. Mark Bidelman (center) of Soquel High School was one of three teachers honored this year by the Far Western District. On the left is principal Ken Lawrence-Emanuel surrounded by a chorus class. Included with the award was a $250 check for the school's music department.