DEL CITY — The uplifting sound of choir members singing and clapping echoed in the halls of Del City High School on Tuesday.
The music flooded the choir room and the neighboring room of the choral director, Brenda Mechling, or “mama Mech,” as her students call her.
The sounds were not unlike those that first captivated Mechling when she was 3 years old, singing in her church choir in Kingfisher.
“I remember that the louder I sang, the more people clapped and smiled. It was a wonderful feeling. From then on, I was hooked.”
Last month, Mechling was named teacher of the year for the Midwest City-Del City School District. She directs the Del City High School choir and teaches music education, choral literature and piano and has a private voice studio.
“When I heard that I won, I was so excited. I don't remember what I said or did for the first 10 minutes,” she said.
Mechling's mother assured her she said nothing out of the norm during the award ceremony.
Mechling, 57, has taught in the district 16 years and is a Del City High School graduate who earned a music education degree from the University of Central Oklahoma. She's the mother of five, grandmother of eight and is a juxtaposition of enthusiasm and grace.
Extroverted yet humble, she is unable to contain her passion for music, or for teaching.
“I feel like I am meant to be doing this,” she said. “People have this misconception that all there is to music is playing an instrument or singing a song, but there is so much more to it than that.”
Mechling explained that Del City, landlocked by Oklahoma City to the north, south and west and Midwest City to the east, has not seen much urban renewal in recent years.
The comparatively small 5A district takes in a lot of small houses and rental properties, resulting in a mobile school district population.
“A lot of my kids have parents who are working two jobs. A lot of these kids are raising their siblings. They need a place to go where they can release their stress, where someone will be honest with them but where they can still find comfort,” Mechling said.