MARCH 30, 2022— Pal-Mac High School Choir teacher Kayla Osika took a step into the TV spotlight Tuesday night as she was featured on WROC-TV (News 8 Rochester) during the station's "Golden Apple Award" segment.
Osika did not find out she was nominated for the award until a news crew came walking through the door to the choir room last week.
The news team was joined by Gardner, as well as Principal Andrew Wahl and Superintendent Dr.Robert Ike.
"It’s an extremely humbling experience, “ Osika said. “I could have never imagined in a million years. I’m very grateful, very humbled that I was recognized.”
The award topped off a month-long transition for Osika, who had just come back to the district on Feb.28 after being on maternity leave following the birth of her daughter, Harper, on Dec.22, 2021. Osika delivered Harper just hours after the high school choir wrapped up its holiday concert on the 21st.
While Osika was away, Mrs. Rhonda Fossum helped steer the ship. She says Fossum arranged a special welcome back for her, which included having her students sign a giant welcome message on the white board of the choir room.
“It was amazing just to come back to these kids, if I’m being honest,” Osika said. “There’s always this anxiety of leaving your child at home. Making that transition back was difficult at the get go, but when I got back here and saw the kids it was just a welcoming feeling, like it was meant to be.”
Mrs.Osika first came to the Pal-Mac Central School District seven years ago, spending six years at the middle school before transferring to the high school last year. Osika told us while the recognition she received was great, at her core, she simply loves her students.
“They’re everything, right?” Osika said. “I mean they’re why we do what we do. We wouldn’t come back day in and day out if we didn’t love our kids and love being with them and seeing them grow.”
When News 8 asked Gardner why she nominated Osika for the award, she said it was because of how Osika helped her grow.
“I’ve definitely improved a lot more as a singer, I think I owe a lot of that to her because she’s taught me a lot,” Gardner said. “If we’re having a bad day, she always makes it better and she’s always encouraged us to do our best whether it’s for performance, or it’s just something going on in our lives.”
In our interview with Osika, she also reflected on the more intimate setting of working with an ensemble chorus, or sometimes one-on-one with a student, all in an effort to help strengthen their voices. Getting back into a room with her students was something she said she could not wait to get back to doing when students and teachers were allowed to return to schools after being away due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You don’t know what you’ve lost until you’ve got it back,” Osika said.
Congrats, Mrs. Osika!!