IHS Ted Christensen reconnects with old students at his surprise retirement celebration on June 9. Madison Miller / staff photo

IHS Ted Christensen reconnects with old students at his surprise retirement celebration on June 9. Madison Miller / staff photo

Inglemoor music teacher honored for 38 years of teaching

Ted Christensen received a surprise retirement party to celebrate his almost four decades of teaching.

A tunnel of 200 expectant faces lined the outdoor hallway at Inglemoor High School (IHS) on June 9.

They were all waiting to surprise one man who has left a lasting influence on their lives.

Ted Christensen has led the IHS music program for the past 36 years. He is retiring this year after teaching for a total of 38 years.

During his time at the school, he had had 40 drum majors, led 140 concerts, taken his students on more than 30 trips, led more than 20 parades, and the list goes on.

However, it isn’t as much about what he’s done or how long he’s been the school’s band director. To his students, his friends, family and his community — it’s only been about what he’s given to others.

Now, his family and students want to give something back to him.

Cathy Christensen, his wife, Erin Christensen, assistant teacher and former student, Lily Bechtel another former student, joined together to host a celebration for Ted.

“It’s so well-deserved,” Cathy said. “It’s been a pleasure to walk alongside him all these years and see the lives he’s touched.”

The party has been in the works for the past year.

“It was Cathy’s idea,” Bechtel said. “We were so sad to hear he was retiring but we were excited to be part of planning this for him.”

They put out the call to IHS band alumni to see how many people would be interested in celebrating Christensen.

“The response was overwhelming,” Erin said. “It just showed how instrumental he is in students’ lives.”

Alumni from every year Ted taught were present for the celebration.

Ray Alejandro (class of 1988), Geoffrey Simpson and Ron Gilchrist (class of 1989) enjoyed reminiscing of their high school band days while looking at old photographs.

Thirty years after graduating high school, they said Ted left a lasting influence on them.

“He was easily one of my favorite teachers from high school,” Gilchrist said. “He made me love music and he always brought out the best in his students…He really saw you and connected with you as more than just a student.”

They said they came back to honor Ted because they wanted to wish him well and tell him the effect he had on them.

“We wanted to come back and sort of remember the magic,” Alejandro said. “He was a big part in that.”

The ceremony was held in the school’s gym. There was a series of speakers, including his daughter and former student, Emma Christensen, former student and drum major, Matthew Brown, family friend, Debbie Lucas, friend and colleague, Jim Rice, and Northshore School District Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid.

All the speakers highlighted their favorite memories of Ted and how he influenced their lives.

Emma said her father created a community with his students — who then became family. Experiencing him both as a father and as a teacher shaped her into who the person she is today.

“I’ve spent my life watching my dad change and affect lives. He showed me that I can change the world just by being there and being kind,” she said. “He is the best mentor, teacher and dad I could ask for.”

Rice, a former colleague, said Ted added value to everyone’s lives.

“You’re all here because of the value Ted put in your life,” he said. “You’ve felt that value and you’ll pass that along…Ted always wanted to make himself more valuable [so] he could be better and do what’s right.”

Ted said he was grateful for the celebration as well as all the years he spent at IHS.

“You need to understand that staying 36 years in the same place — there’s a reason for that,” he said. “This has been the best place to work.”

He said he feels he always received more from his students than he felt he gave them.

“You all have given more than I’ve given,” he said. “All I did was try my best to set their table up for success…I’ve always thought that if you expect the best in people that you’ll usually find it.”

The celebrating isn’t over for Ted. On June 10, Kenmore City Council designated June 14 as Ted Christensen Day.

“This all has really affirmed everything that he is,” Cathy said. “It’s always been about the kids for him.”

IHS music teacher of 36 years Ted Christensen receives a surprise retirement party. Madison Miller / staff photo

IHS music teacher of 36 years Ted Christensen receives a surprise retirement party. Madison Miller / staff photo

Ted Christensen hugs his nephew and former student, Kip Barnes, at his retirement party. Madison Miller / staff photo

Ted Christensen hugs his nephew and former student, Kip Barnes, at his retirement party. Madison Miller / staff photo

Ted Christensen’s daughter and former student, Emma Christensen, speaks at her father’s retirement ceremony. Madison Miller / staff photo

Ted Christensen’s daughter and former student, Emma Christensen, speaks at her father’s retirement ceremony. Madison Miller / staff photo

Ted Christensen hugs former student, Ron Gilchrist (class of 1989) at his surprise retirement party. Madison Miller/ staff photo

Ted Christensen hugs former student, Ron Gilchrist (class of 1989) at his surprise retirement party. Madison Miller/ staff photo

Former IHS teacher, Jim Rice, speaks at Ted Christensen’s retirement ceremony. Madison Miller / staff photo

Former IHS teacher, Jim Rice, speaks at Ted Christensen’s retirement ceremony. Madison Miller / staff photo

Ted Christensen addresses the audience of over 150 friends, family and former students and staff at his retirement ceremony. Madison Miller / staff photo

Ted Christensen addresses the audience of over 150 friends, family and former students and staff at his retirement ceremony. Madison Miller / staff photo

Ted Christensen addresses the audience of over 150 friends, family and former students and staff at his retirement ceremony. Madison Miller / staff photo

More in Life

Interior of one of the townhomes. Photo courtesy Bothell-Kenmore chamber website
Ribbon-cutting, open house at One89Dwell Townhomes

The ceremony begins at 5 p.m. on Aug. 28.

Rep. DelBene helps one of the children at the event blow bubbles. Blake Peterson/staff photo
DelBene attends Kenmore summer lunch program event

The event was put on by the YMCA of Greater Seattle.

Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo
                                Eight Northshore District alumni, former staff and volunteers were recognized at the 2019 Wall of Honor Ceremony at Pop Keeney Stadium on Aug. 15.
Eight new inductees join the Northshore Wall of Honor

The Wall of Honor recognizes the achievement of Northshore School District alumni, staff, and volunteers.

Bothell pop-up dog park potentially extending its stay

Bothell Landing’s temporary dog park’s end date is being reconsidered.

Mindful goal setting

What are the roots of you life goals?

Bothell awarded grant to create cultural plan

This work will be led by the newly formed Bothell Arts Commission and city staff.

Microsoft looking for Kenmore residents to participate in study

The goal of the study is to better understand people’s perceptions and experiences with the air around them.

Bothell’s Babies of Homelessness preps for back-to-school event

The Bothell nonprofit provides basic need supplies to homeless families.

Madison Miller / staff photo
                                Bothell High School class of 1979 reunite for 40-year reunion. Sandy Seib Orsillo and Shelly Schmidt look at old photos of classmates.
Bothell High School class of ‘79 reunite for 40-year reunion

BHS class of ‘79 share stories and laughs at 40-year reunion.

UW Bothell’s oldest grad, 68: ‘I loved every minute of it’

A half century after high school, Linda Ellis survived statistics and earned the respect of classmates.

Andrya Rytter, owner of Level Seven Salon in Bothell, gives Vanessa Rivera a haircut at the sixth annual Care Day at Northshore Middle School. Madison Miller/staff photo
Care Day in Bothell serves more than 800 people in need

In its sixth year, Care Day continues to serve people and families in need on the Eastside.