Like the light streaming in through the ornate windows of historic McCray Hall, music professor Carol Deats' presence at the front of her classroom is like a ray of sunshine.
As she guides her class through a lesson these future music teachers will one day pass on to young children, her posture, expressions, and tone all portray the sort of energy and enthusiasm they'll need in order to hold the attention of elementary students.
They also reveal a person who clearly loves what she does.
"I have such a deep respect for elementary and music teachers. They should be championed for what they do," said Deats, who is in her fifth year with PSU. "I can't imagine someone becoming an elementary teacher and being a stick in the mud, so I help them get in touch with their creative side."
Well-researched on the importance of exposing children to music during their early developmental years, Deats is also behind Musikgarten, PSU's community music program for kids. Designed to parallel a child's development, the program includes singing, dancing, and teaching preschoolers about musical instruments.
And although her courses call for a dose of animation, her work appeals to grown-ups too. Deats is a professional symphonic musician, playing French horn with groups in both Italy and throughout the U.S. She has performed with music legend Ray Charles, Moody Blues, and the group Kansas, and plays extensively in local ensembles.
At PSU, said Deats, she's found a place to work on both ends of the scale.
"This is a wonderful place to be, and I just love my students here," she said. "It's a greenhouse for learning with a supportive environment and a vibrant musical community. This is a stimulating, invigorating, and nurturing place for someone who is up to the challenge of this great program."