Humans of Lincoln East: Aaron Zart


Photo by Sam Chebuhar

Mr. Zart at the piano

When Aaron Zart was asked how he felt about coming into his first year of teaching at East he said this: “I was nervous, but also just excited. I was excited to meet a completely new group of students and develop those relationships. That’s my favorite part of the job, hands down.”
Mr. Zart may only be in his second year of teaching at East, but he definitely is not new to East’s halls, having been a student here himself all four years of high school. Mr. Zart said in high school he was a big “sports guy.” He was involved in football, basketball, and baseball, he even coached baseball at East for a year while in college at UNL. But while being in sports, music was still his main focus. On the music side of things he was involved in East’s Varsity show choir Express, East’s Varsity concert choir Singers, and Snatraps.
Mr. Zart’s experiences in the choir room with his old choir teacher, Mrs. Smith inspired him to be where he is today. “She gave us a lot of opportunities to be leaders, and to kind of take on projects by yourself, which I greatly appreciate, so it’s through all those that I was like, ‘Oh, I can do this,’ and ‘This is super fun,’ and I wanted to give that back to students.” Zart said. Mr. Zart and Ms. Wissink (East’s other Vocal Music Director) both went to UNL to study music education. During Mr. Zart’s senior year he started applying for jobs in a wide range of states (South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri).
“… I ended up just kind of weighing my options and Troy was a really good situation for me, because I would get to do a lot of the things that I was used to, like I would get to do the show choir thing,” Zart said. “And I would get to do the Concert Choir thing. And it was close to St. Louis and I had a ton of barbershop friends in that area so it was just kind of the best of all situations there.”
Mr. Zart taught at Troy Buchanan High School/Middle School in Troy, Missouri for four years. While there, he taught a wide variety of choir classes. He said that things “… kind of changed each and every year, but that’s because we added ensembles, and restructured things as we went.” When he found out that Mr. Epperson (East’s former Vocal Music Director) was leaving, he decided it was time to come home. “I mean everybody wants to come home at some point, and so coming home was definitely like part of it because my family’s here. It’s nice to be next to family.”
Zart was nervous, but at the same time very excited to get started at East. He didn’t want to screw up anything that Mr. Epperson and Mrs. Wissink had built over the last few years, but at the same time was very excited to meet new people. “My first year was crazy, to say the least, … but you know having to go to spring break and never come back was kind of weird.” Mr. Zart still hasn’t had a chance to experience Expressions, District Music Contest, the Graduation performance by Singers, etc. since the fourth quarter was all online. But for the three quarters Mr. Zart was here for, he described it as amazing. “Working with you guys [vocal music students] has been awesome.”
Mr. Zart is still very optimistic about this year, even with coronavirus affecting schooling and said, “I’m looking forward to getting a chance to push students towards realizing they can do a lot of this stuff themselves, and realizing they can take advantage of their educational opportunities. There’s going to be a lot of time for individual practice, which is a very important skill to learn, but I’m also looking forward to finding new and creative ways to do what we’ve always done, but in a newer, cooler way.”
Mr. Zart is trying to make this year a fun one and a great learning environment for his students. With things being different, Mr. Zart is getting a chance to try some new things out. Teaching choir/show choir to zoom kids definitely is a challenge. He is looking for new ways to still make the year fun, but safety is the most important thing for him. “… Those kinds of challenges excite me,” he said. “But they also drive me absolutely crazy.” Although this year may not be the one that Mr. Zart was expecting, he is still working very hard to make it the best it possibly can be for the students.