Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Professor pursues love of singing outside the classroom

By Courtney Westlake

Dr. Michael Lane
, Clinical Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at UIS, participated in school choirs when he was young, but then he found the trumpet in 6th grade and continued to play through junior high and high school. However, when he married his musically-inclined wife, Cathy, and moved to her hometown of Rushville, Illinois, he found a love for singing again.

“There is quite a fine arts orientation to that community,” he said. “They have a very active theater and put on many musicals both through the school and in the community.”

In around 1990, Lane and his wife had the opportunity to join the newly-formed Madrigal group in the area and became very involved with the group. The group performs two out of every three years, practicing every Sunday starting in September (and memorizing between 20 and 25 pieces) until they begin one week that includes three performances in December.

“It’s a full Madrigal performance, which means costumers, sometimes jugglers, dancers, strolling minstrels, and they serve a full Madrigal meal,” Lane said. “It’s been a wonderful experience and very well-received. It’s a bit grueling at times, but we get very good audiences; usually our shows are sold-out.”

Lane currently teaches in the College of Education and Human Services at UIS. He had stepped into just about every position possible in the public school system during his career - from coach and teacher all the way up to superintendent - but when he decided to retire, he couldn't step away from his life-long passion that easily.

So Lane finished up his doctoral degree and came to UIS to teach other teachers.

“I had taught as an adjunct professor in the Educational Leadership Department for a few years, and then I had the opportunity to come here full-time,” he said. “I really enjoy the university; I like the size of the university and the caliber of the students that are here. I feel the university does a good job in supporting us in the opportunity to be creative in our courses.”

When he first began college, Lane was a marketing major, but he found he “just missed school,” he laughed.

“I always liked school; I always very much enjoyed education,” he said. “I thought that I’d really like to teach and coach. So for many years, I taught English and physical education, and I coached football for 11 years, track for 8 years, and 2 years of basketball.”

Both teaching and singing are family-wide interests in the Lane clan. His wife Cathy minored in music in college and taught music full-time when they were first married. In addition to the Madrigals, the couple has also sung with a group called the Schuyler Singers for many years. His grown children - a son, Daniel, and a daughter, Elizabeth (also called Libby) - have both sung and performed throughout their lives as well.

“My wife is very musical; she plays many folk instruments that she learned to play on her own,” Lane said. “My son didn’t pursue music in college, but my daughter got her bachelors degree in fine arts and musical theater from Millikin and got a masters degree from Western in theater performance. She still does regional theater on weekends and evenings.”

Though getting a doctorate was always a goal of Lane’s, he didn't find the time to actually pursue one until his kids were grown and away at college because of all of his musical and family commitments.

His responsibilities at UIS now, among others, include supervising clinical experiences for students in his program, who must complete 240 hours of clinical activity experiences in about two semesters. He also teaches a blended learning course called Supervision of Instruction, so the class meets both online and in the classroom.

Lane said he has found new approaches to technology, such as blended learning, very appealing at UIS and commends the university for its willingness to explore new technology.

“I find this campus to be very dynamic and on the cutting-edge of technology,” Lane said. “The Center for Online Learning, Research and Service and Tech Support are so supportive. It’s wonderful to have that technical support here, and the university is not afraid to explore whatever is most up-to-date in technology, and that’s rather impressive.”