As this school year closes, St. Mary Catholic School honors Mrs. Lorraine Westermark for her dedicated service to our students during the past 17 years.  Lorraine has been a talented treasure within our school faculty. She established the Suzuki Violin Program at our school (the only one in the Diocese of Raleigh) and has taught over a hundred students each year. She sets high goals for her students and helps them reach them in any way possible.

Lorraine has been teaching Suzuki Violin for 42 years, this being her 37th year in Wilmington.  She graduated with B.A. Music from the College of Charleston with continued teacher training in the Suzuki Method of teaching violin.  Her principal Suzuki Teacher Trainers have been William Starr, Louise Wear, Hiroko Driver, Yuko Mori and Katherine Wood.  Lorraine also had the wonderful experience of participating in two teacher training sessions with Dr. Shinichi Suzuki in 1982.

Along with teaching violin at St. Mary School, Lorraine has a private studio with Suzuki Talent Education of Wilmington. She has served as Chair of Education for the Wilmington Symphony Board of Directors and currently chairs the Wilmington Youth Symphony Alumni Committee.   She is a past president of The North Carolina Suzuki Teachers Association and a former member of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. She performs with the Tallis Chamber Orchestra and is retired from 29 years with the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to teaching, she continues to share her musical talent at the Basilica Shrine of St. Mary.  Shinichi Suzuki always said that his method is not just to raise fine musicians but people with great hearts.  She has combined her St. Mary School and private students to participate in concerts to benefit the St. Mary/Tileston Social Ministry, Home of Hope and The Daniel Pearl World Music Day Concert as part of Wilmington’s Sister City Program.

A very special teaching highlight of her life was teaching a young boy named Mark with Downs Syndrome.  He began violin at the age of 9 and at the age of 26 he was playing the Seitz Concerto No. 5.  Mrs. Westermark had an article published in the Spring 1997 American Suzuki Journal “Inclusion and the Suzuki Method”, all about her work with Mark. In May 2000, she was asked to speak at the Suzuki Association of the Americas 9th Conference titled Roots & WingsMeeting the Needs of Every Child.    Work with Mark was the best learning experience any teacher could ever have.  It was really a testament Dr. Suzuki’s Philosophy – Every Child CAN!

She is blessed with three children and four grandchildren. Three grandchildren play violin and the youngest, in kindergarten, plays cello.

As she begins retirement, Lorraine Westermark leaves St. Mary School’s faculty as a highly respected professional educator who is wished the greatest blessings from God.