Asked why she is stepping down now, Dr. Ecklund-Flores exclaims, “I’m old! I’ve given the School all of my attention for almost my entire adult life, given my best efforts and all of my energy, and it’s time for someone younger and more energetic to take the reins. The School is well situated for this transition. It is going to be important for the community to help make this happen, by maintaining their commitment and support.
Her proudest accomplishment is, “saving the school from demise in 2017, when we were being evicted because we couldn’t afford the rent. We had full enrollment, and nowhere to house the school. I had looked for space for years and never found anything. So when I found the old Flea Theater,” an available performance space on White Street, in Tribeca, “and signed a lease and renovated the space in five weeks, moved the entire school over a weekend and opened without missing a day of classes, that was the hardest and best thing I ever did for the school.”
Still, some goals remain unrealized: “A special needs program, formalized for differently-abled people,” is one she cites that will be left for her successor to implement. “We have always embraced everyone at Church Street School, regardless of their abilities. And we have always created customized programs for those with special needs to shine. But I wanted this to be one of our established foundational programs, and several attempts I have made to partner with other organizations on this have failed. So that should be prioritized going forward, in my opinion.”
Looking further into the organization’s future, Dr. Ecklund-Flores hopes, “that the School will someday have its own building, donated by some wonderful benevolent person. Then the school would have a permanent home, be spared the volatility of the real estate rental market, and have a real asset in its portfolio, as well as the financial stability that comes with it.
Her advice to the people who will lead the School a year from now, a decade from now, a generation from now, is succinct: “Focus your tenacity and perseverance. Keep your eye on the prize. You are working for a higher cause—the facilitation of creative expression, which is the highlight of human existence. It brings people together, and we all need each other.”
For her own future, Dr. Ecklund-Flores says, “I will continue to teach. This is very important to me. And I have a book I want to write, combining my knowledge and experience as a music therapist and as a teacher of Dalcroze Eurhythmics,” an approach that emphasizes concepts of rhythm, structure, and musical expression using movement, by encouraging the student to gain physical awareness, and experience music through all of the senses. “Once I’ve written this book,” she adds, “I have a fantasy that I can turn it into a teacher-training program, so that what I’ve learned can be perpetuated in the work of others.”
Asked how she hopes to be remembered, she answers, “as a gifted teacher with a dream that helped build confidence and a passion for art and music-making in her students, whose work helped to perpetuate in thousands of others her belief in the power of the arts.”