By SAMANTHA SMITH, Staff Writer | Published February 4, 2022
HAPEVILLE—Ashley Broadwater found her love for music at an early age and continues her ministry as music teacher at St. John the Evangelist School.
“I was the child who loved music class and loved to sing in the choir at church,” said Broadwater. “Music ministry began with me when I was serving as a child and it is still happening as I am now serving children.”
Broadwater is the employee of the year from the Hapeville school. She has been the music teacher there for nine years.
In a social media announcement, the school said Broadwater “brings her beautiful talents to the SJE family each day and has a wonderful way of bringing out the talents of our students.”
“Ashley has the voice of an angel,” said Bernadette Boisis, principal of the school. “The love and joy that emanate from her when she sings inspires others and gives glory to God. Her students look to her as a beautiful role model of talent, humility, encouragement and faith. She enhances school Masses with vibrant traditional and contemporary liturgical music. Ashley’s musical direction breathes joyful life into Grandparents’ Day, the annual Talent Show, the Christmas musical and all school performances.”
A native of Lumberton, North Carolina, Broadwater took piano lessons, played the flute and was in the school marching band as a child.
“I began playing piano in my church and working with my youth choir which then inspired me to work with my community choir and surrounding choirs in my community,” she said.
Since then, Broadwater has been able to travel with gospel artists as a background vocalist, do professional vocal studio work and release her own music.
“All of these things I believe, are a product of God’s ordered steps,” she said.
Broadwater moved to Atlanta to study music at Spelman College. While a student, she was introduced to the Catholic faith while a choir staff singer at Our Lady of Lourdes Church. At the time, the Atlanta parish choir director was Dr. Kevin Johnson, music director of the Spelman College Glee Club.
While studying for her master’s degree in church music, she taught music at St. Peter Claver School in Macon. Broadwater was a part-time music teacher at St. John the Evangelist School for two years before joining the staff full time.
At the Hapeville school Jesus is in the center of everyone’s work, explained Broadwater.
“Prayer is essential not as a mandate, but because it makes every activity, program, meeting and performance more fulfilling,” she said.
One of Broadwater’s fondest memories at the school was an impromptu adoration on a Friday afternoon. While she played songs on the piano, her seventh grade choir students sang along and suggested songs.
“We sang and sang for about an hour while students and teachers in the congregation cried, reflected and prayed,” said Broadwater. “It was the most beautiful, spontaneous display of the Holy Spirit.”
The annual Christmas musical is Broadwater’s favorite project, where she prepares students in every grade to perform for the school community. In 2020, the event was virtual due to the pandemic. In December, the school returned to the popular in-person concert, but performed over two nights to limit the audience size.
“As a music educator, returning to school with tons of restrictions on what I could and couldn’t do because of the new virus was devastating,” she said. But within two weeks of approval, “I pulled together what I felt was my students’ best work to date,” said Broadwater.
Overall, Broadwater loves that the school is a true family.
“Everybody knows everybody,” she said. “We are a small faculty who are professional of course, but we are also personal. We love one another. When someone is sick, we care, we reach out and we assist. The children are the same way. They love on one another and celebrate each other’s wins.”