Dianne Findley

The Oakridge School, Arlington

Teaches: General music, first-fourth grade; musical theater, third-eighth grade
Education: Bachelor, Sacred Music, Centenary College; Master, Music Ministry, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Experience: 22 years, including 17 at Oakridge; coordinator for youth and children’s music at Broadway Baptist Church

It’s not difficult to identify Dianne Findley’s No. 1 passion: music.

“I love to use that as a tool to touch lives, inspire people to do things that they’ve never done before and to try new things and gain self-confidence,” she says. “Whether that’s singing in a choir or getting on a stage and singing a solo or becoming an actor in a play that they would never have dreamed of trying out for.”

One of Findley’s former students, a Broadway aspirant, recently graduated and headed for New York.

At Oakridge, Findley works with all of the lower school children. “Dianne has such an integral role in inspiring our students when they’re young,” Jon Kellam, the headmaster, says.

Parent Michelle Emmert says her son, who has struggled with self-esteem, found a new avenue in Findley’s musical theater class. “There on the stage and in crewman work, he found a new talent and place he can be exceptional,” she wrote in nominating Findley.

Like other teachers we interviewed for this year’s honor, Findley finds competing with technology the biggest challenge in the classroom.

“I feel like our kids are so technologically driven, sometimes I fight the battle to make sure they are still actively enjoying music and not just feeling like they have to be experts at it because we’re so driven in the world to be experts at everything,” she says.

Off the clock, Findley says, “I’m usually sitting on my back deck. My favorite thing to do is to try to relax and try not to think of the things I need to be doing.” Away from Fort Worth, she and her husband travel with their daughters, 22 and 25, often to their vacation home in Colorado.