Mike and Meredith Braun are a harmonious couple. Literally as well as figuratively.
The husband and wife couple share a love of education and both work for the Pulaski County school system in different capacities. Mike is in the central office as the high school instructional supervisor, as well as the district arts coordinator, and Meredith is the choir director at Pulaski County High School.
But it is clear in these titles that there is the second thing that binds them together: the love of music.
“Growing up my whole family was musical,” said Meredith, a South West high school alumnus whose father, Phillip Hash, operated the Melody Music store in Somerset until his death in 2006. “My father played the piano at church every Sunday and we all loved harmonizing. I loved singing in the Madrigal Choirs of Southern Middle and Southwestern High School growing up. Even though I was adamant I wasn’t going to specialize in music when I got to college I couldn’t escape it, that was what I loved.
Mike is a native of Jessamine County, Ky., Born in Pennsylvania; his parents were missionaries in Ivory Coast in Africa when he was very young. They then found their way to his mother’s hometown of Corning, NY and eventually Lexington, then Wilmore when he was in seventh grade, where he stayed in college. This is where he and Meredith first crossed paths.
“The last semester of my senior year, my dorm buddies encouraged me to join the college choir just so I could accompany them on tour during spring break,” he said. “We traveled from city to city in the northeast and sang in churches and schools. Meredith was also in the choir and a mutual friend introduced us and played the role of matchmaker the entire trip. A year and a half later, Meredith and I were married, and this mutual friend (Shawn Okpebholo) composed the music for the brass quintet for our wedding procession. He is now professor of musical composition at Wheaton College.
(Even more than that, Okpebholo is a renowned composer and conductor with his own website, http://www.shawnokpebholo.com/, and a Wikipedia page.)
“I love telling people that I got ‘married in Pulaski County’, and I’m so grateful,” said Mike. “I am grateful for our marriage, for our family, and for our community and the people who make it special.”
Mike noted that it is his shared faith and Meredith’s that solidifies their relationship. But music is an integral part of their expression of that faith, “which only strengthens our bond,” he said. And for both of them, this musical way of communicating has deep roots.
“Like Meredith, I grew up in a musical family,” he added. “My parents encouraged me to join a group in elementary school (in New York), and I loved it. I continued on to college and graduated in Music Education from Asbury College, where Meredith and I met. I was an orchestra president in high school and college, and I had every intention of becoming a high school conductor.
After college, the two Brauns struggled to find jobs. They both applied for a job as a music teacher at Burnside Elementary in 2003 and were both called in for an interview.
“We actually sat next to each other on a bench outside the school boardroom, waiting our turn to meet with the interview committee,” Mike said. “She interviewed first, I interviewed then… We were good references to each other.
“Ms. April Mounce, director, called us a few hours later and offered me the job, which I accepted,” he added. “Then Ms. Mounce called the director of Northern Middle School, Angela Murphy, who had just posted a choir teacher vacancy – and Meredith quickly got an interview and was offered the job there. It worked out wonderfully for us. And I quickly got over it. lost my desire to be a conductor, because I loved teaching elementary students so much. ”
Mike’s globetrotting days weren’t over, however. Two years after getting the above jobs, the couple moved to Tianjin, China to teach at an international school. When Meredith’s father died, the Brauns returned to Somerset a year later and were rehired into the county school system, and Mike even ran the music store for a year.
After that, he taught performing arts at Pulaski Elementary School, including dance and drama with “a strong infusion of music,” he said, while Meredith began working on a master’s degree. in choral conducting from Eastern Kentucky University and finally a grade 1 in secondary education from EKU. . She has taught at both Pulaski County High School and North Middle School, including classes in music theory, crafts and instruments through time, general music, and the arts. of the stage in addition to the choir.
“At the end of the day, I’m a backing vocalist,” Meredith said. “Almost all of my musical energy goes into my high school choir program or helping our church choir. I was classically trained in college and I often had solo concerts for parts of operas and oratorios because I had a strong enough voice to pick up the instruments of our little college orchestra.
For Mike and Meredith, music is part of their daily life, which they live with children Maddy and Max here in Pulaski County.
“Meredith and I are constantly talking about school and music,” Mike said. “Our jobs are not just work for us. This is how we invest in our community and the people around us. And making music is part of our everyday family life, whether it’s singing, playing the piano or playing the guitar.
And in their role as educators, they do what they can to pass this love of music on to others, in the hope that it can enrich so many other lives as the Braun family does.
“I would tell anyone interested to give it a try,” said Meredith of the school choir. “I think most of my students find a place to express themselves, try new things, and be part of a community that’s truly different from almost anything you will find in high school or in life! “