Band teacher gets creative, bypassing pandemic barrier to help students

Local News

LAFAYETTE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult, to say the least, but it’s also brought out the best in people and forced some to roll with the punches and get creative.

Inside the walls of Grimshaw Elementary School, you’ll find Becky Pethybridge, the band teacher.

She turned a pandemic barrier into an opportunity to tap into a different skill to help her day job and her students.

When Pethybridge gets home from work, you’ll often find her at her kitchen table, making earrings from scratch out of clay.

Pethybridge started doing this in March when the pandemic froze her instrument repair fund.

“You can’t plan ahead for when they’re [instruments] going to need repair.”

Becky Pethybridge

She didn’t want any child to be left without an instrument and to her surprise, her little business took off.

“I’ve repaired about 10 instruments, which doesn’t necessarily sound like a lot but repairs can run $60 on the low end to $150-200 on the high end,” she said.

The budget was reinstated in September, and Pethybridge has shifted.

She’s now using the money her earrings raise to buy pre-loved instruments so every child can join the band if they’d like to.

“I strongly believe that all of our kids deserve an opportunity to at least try, regardless of our financial situation,” Pethybridge said. “I’ve never had to say no to anyone. I’ve never had to say, ‘I can’t help you’ so that’s a really great feeling.”

Her earrings cost anywhere from $7-12.

You can browse her earrings on her Facebook page, Play It By Ear.

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