Macon State College MVPs is a web feature that profiles notable students, alumni, faculty and staff.
Full Name: Rebecca Susanna Lanning (nee Shultz).
Originally From: Born in Akron, Ohio. Grew up on a small farm in Deerfield, Ohio.
Family: Husband, Kevin; sons, William (12), and Aaron (10). “We have multiple pets, but the only one that qualifies for family status is Count Olaf, my Norwegian Forest Cat.”
Job Title: Associate professor of music, coordinator of music.
Degrees: Bachelor of music education and master of music from Ohio University.
Year she joined the Macon State faculty: 1993.
Some of her teaching career highlights are … “In 1996, I sang three times at Carnegie Hall. The first time was a MidAmerica production of Elijah with Sherrill Milnes. The second was as a member of the Robert Shaw Chamber Singers. We sang the Brahms Requiem with Dawn Upshaw and Nathan Gunn and I actually got paid for that one! The third involved the making of a documentary about Mendelssohn's Elijah. It was a week of intense work of filming which ended with a glorious concert with Thomas Hampson, Dominique LaBelle, and Marietta Simpson. A favorite teaching moment, however, was when I took students to sing in France. One gal had never left Central Georgia before she climbed on that airplane. I sat with her during takeoff. The look in her eyes when that plane left the ground: priceless!”
She enjoys teaching at Macon State College because … “I love introducing students to new things (see note above!) It's both a thrill and very rewarding to find each student's switch for intellectual curiosity and flip it to the ‘on’ position. I've taken students to New York three times and they are never the same people when they return. It's a great big wonderful world out there, folks! I'm obsessed with newspapers and bring kids reviews of Broadway shows, or a piece on Alan Gilbert (the new conductor of the NY Phil who has stolen the hearts of these crusty players), or a new play in London. Some of our students have never been farther east than Savannah, farther west than Birmingham, farther north than Atlanta and farther south than Panama City. To instill in them the desire to Go! Experience! Learn! Wow...what can be better than that?”
Her favorite course to teach is … “I'm teaching a comparative arts course this summer, a humanities "Special Topics" course that I'm very excited about. It examines Modern/Postmodern culture through art, music, literature, architecture, and dance. I can't remember when I've enjoyed reading a textbook more. It's been my leisure reading in the evenings. Now, if that's not wonky, I don't know what is.”
One thing people don’t know about Macon State is … “We have the largest, most progressive guitar program in Central Georgia. Our guitar alumni have gone to Chicago's Roosevelt, Eastman, and sure, those little schools like UGA and Mercer. Two years ago a master teacher from the prestigious Indiana Conservatory taught a master class for the guitar students and said the talent in Macon State's guitar program was truly outstanding for its size. Terry Cantwell: that guy's amazing.”
One thing people don’t know about her is … “I wish I could adopt about 15 kids. The more noise, the more mess, the happier I am. Ever seen my office? On a serious note, I also have been known to stop and give hugs/food to the sex workers on Montpelier Avenue. These women have true dignity because they were made by the same God I was. I try to bring kindness into their lives, even if it is only for a few fleeting moments.”
In her spare time she likes to … “This is the only easy question on here! New York Times crossword puzzles! Some men bring their wives flowers, candy, or perfume. My husband knows that the way to my heart is a New York Times. He brings me one every night. Ooh la la!”
The one person she’d most like to meet is … “My sons about 15 years from now. I'd like to know whether to smile and pat them on their heads or lock them in their rooms for the rest of their lives.”
If she wasn’t a college professor she would be … “Anything that involves helping people. A foster parent, a counselor, heck, I think a greeter at Wal-Mart can make an impact on a person's life if they do it right.”