Raising the bar, one performance at a time
Writer / Janelle Morrison
Koharchik teaches language arts at Zionsville Middle School and is the musical director at Zionsville High School. She was raised in the community by her parents, Greg and Jann Reed and currently lives here with husband, Ryan, and their two sons, Reed, age four, and Rowan, age two.
She majored in English literature at Miami University of Ohio where she was heavily involved in theatre and an acapella group. After graduation, she applied with Teach for America, a national program that recruits graduates who commit two years to teaching in low-income communities to develop and mobilize the nation’s promising future leaders. Koharchik taught in the south Bronx for two years before returning to her hometown.
“While I was teaching in New York City, I received my master’s in teaching at Pace University,” Koharchik said. “After my two-year commitment, I was missing my family and my community. New York was great, but in a city where you are surrounded by millions of people, it can feel lonely. I was ready to come back to my community where people knew me. I accepted a position at ZMS in 2005, and it was the best decision that I’ve made to come back home.”
Upon returning, Koharchik became active in the Booth Tarkington’s Civic Theatre, where she performed in several productions and was cast in roles such as Evita, The Little Shop of Horrors, and others. It was there that she met the lighting and set designer, Ryan Koharchik, and the two were married not long after they met.
Koharchik and her husband decided to move to Zionsville and raise their family. After having their first son, she decided to take a hiatus from acting to focus on her work at the school and raising her sons.
“Ryan is my creative collaborator,” she explained. “He is my lighting and set designer for the high school shows. I directed at the middle school level from 2007 to 2012 before accepting the position as musical director for Zionsville Community High School in 2013. I love helping the students develop their passion for theatre and their skills. Theatre has taken me so many places. The beauty of having started directing at ZMS and having transferred to the high school is that I have students that I have directed for eight years in a row. It has truly been a gift that we have had that long of a run together and for me to have watched them develop as performers has been rewarding. The arts, including theatre, is a great way students to be creative and boost their confidence.”
Koharchik continued, “When I look back at the defining moments of my life, I don’t think of a test or a grade that got. I remember a teacher telling me that I was important or the feeling of success when we finished a show. When our students look back they’re not going remember a test, and they probably won’t remember the basic educational lessons, but they will remember the connections that we’ve made with them. That is one of the reasons why I like teaching. Teaching is a performance, and I’m a performer at a heart. Performing and teaching are both about making connections with fellow artists and the audience with whom we engage. We give our students the opportunity to be creative and to make connections with each other, their teachers, and with themselves.”
After being named the Zionsville Teacher of the Year, Koharchik advanced to the top 10 teachers in the state and interviewed with the former Teacher of the Year. She was surprised to be observed without notification by representatives from the Department of Education and former Teachers of the Year. She also submitted a 20-page portfolio. In the fall of 2016, she was notified that she had made the top 10 and in November, she was named a finalist in the top three.
“I felt undeserving because I had never expected to be named let alone make the top three,” she said. “There are so many other deserving teachers, and I am just one of so many incredible educators that are out there in our communities. It was a whirlwind that I just had never expected, but it opened my world in such a big way, and I got to meet other amazing educators from the other school districts. I was able to meet with people, including former Superintendent Glenda Ritz, who share my passion for language arts and theatre.”
Koharchik is pleased to announce that this year’s Fall Musical for ZCHS is going to be Les Miserables and also honored to announce that she will perform in her first role since her six-year hiatus as Marian in the Civic’s upcoming production of The Music Man in Carmel, Indiana.