Dena Baumann believes in investing time in creating the community you want.
“I feel like we have such a beautiful community,” explains Baumann, adding she also feels privileged to be able to do her work as a music and band teacher at Columneetza here.
Baumann is also a musician, mother, mountain biker, and a twin. She is known as a kind, generous, and passionate person, but these adjectives feel inadequate to sum up the impact Baumann has on the community.
When speaking to her, she listens intently and patiently, and her ability to connect directly with people is likely part of what helps her build relationships with her students.
The other adjective a person might use to describe her is busy.
Baumann just finished the holiday concert for her band students, which comes at an already intense time of year for teachers, with report cards and other end-of-semester duties. But despite the work required, she loves being able to provide students a situation where they can shine and feel good about themselves.
But her enthusiasm and generosity with her time also have to be balanced with her health, as she recognizes her own limitations these days, so she manages a schedule filled with volunteering, music, being a busy mom with two active children, Tobias and Noemi, a full social calendar and a love for outdoor pursuits, including snowboarding, mountain biking and camping. She then tempers all this with an emphasis on family and mindfulness.
Baumann spent what she refers to as her formative years in Smithers, with grandparents and lots of skiing and no cable or watching any TV unless it was dark outside.
It was also where she began a lifelong love for music, thanks to Smithers’ great elementary school music program.
Her family moved to Prince George when she was in Grade 4 for her father’s work, where Baumann had a lot of musical and sports-related opportunities.
At school, she was taught by Susan Klein who Baumann describes as “a fantastic music educator.”
Klein inspired and encouraged Baumann and it was late in high school when Baumann decided she wanted to pursue a similar career path.
Before coming to Williams Lake, she had been teaching on Vancouver Island but was ready to move back closer to family, when the job here came up. She had only driven through the lakecity, but her brother told her it had great mountain biking and encouraged her to apply and she ended up getting the job.
Despite spending her days in front of a class for many years already, Baumann said she was “terrified to sing in front of anybody” into a microphone or on stage until she was in her late 20s. Then in Williams Lake, she performed with a girl band called Pink Trash. Baumann even taught some of her bandmates to play their instruments to make it work.
“It was actually a huge highlight of my teaching career, it was amazing,”she recalled of the project.
While it was meant as a just for fun way to participate in a battle of the bands contest, she ended up really loving it and the young women played together for three years and still stay in touch.
“You have this special connection because you played music together, and it never goes away,” she explained. The project also gave Baumann a chance to try out songwriting and it was another formative experience. Baumann now performs with a wide range of local musicians.
Though she did leave Williams Lake for a year to live in Switzerland, with her husband-to-be Reudi, who she had met in Williams Lake, the couple returned and have built a home and enjoy raising their family here.
“We’re happy that our kids get to have lots of diverse opportunities here,” said Baumann, noting she feels really lucky. “We have awesome friends and community.”
This spring marked 20 years she has been in Williams Lake.