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Anita (Gleason) Cyrier '65
Cyrier’s ties to Kansas Wesleyan pre-date the start of her studies in 1960. Her United Methodist minister father, Rev. Dean Gleason, had served as KWU’s Director of Development for a few years in the mid-1950s, when Cyrier was in junior high school. When he took a church assignment and moved the family away, she made up her mind to return to the university.
“I needed to go back to the family,” she said. She did not want to attend a huge state university in a big city. “I was from a teeny town. Salina was big enough for me in 1960. I’ve always felt like Kansas Wesleyan was home. It was small, and I loved it—the campus, the people, the dorm life. My sophomore year, I was nominated for Homecoming Queen!”
At Kansas Wesleyan she met her future husband, Larry Cyrier ’62, and they married during her junior year. She left school, but returned and did her student teaching in the only Salina junior high school at the time, finishing her degree in 1965. That same year, her husband had the distinction of being the first special education teacher at Central High School in Salina, KS. He and others carpooled to Emporia State University, where he earned his master’s degree in Special Education in 1967. During that time, Cyrier taught elementary school music in Abilene and Salina, and then moved to Prairie Village, KS, and taught in the Shawnee Mission (KS) School District. Cyrier taught for more than 40 years before retiring in 2009. She also taught for 36 years at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, KS, as a private vocal coach and choral director.
Cyrier’s love has always been music. At 17, she auditioned for a KWU piano scholarship. The big attractions at Kansas Wesleyan were KWU Choir director John Sample and her piano instructor, Oscar Yancey. She remembers with fondness the wonderful choir tours across Kansas several times each semester. That involvement with choirs and singing has lasted her whole life.
This is marked by the fact that Cyrier served as assistant director to the Johnson County Chorus since 1979 and conductor since 1998. She earned a Master in Music Education in 1983 from the Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She has been active in both the Music Educators National Conference and the American Choral Directors Association. In addition to experience as a classical oratorio soloist, lyricist, arranger, and advisory board member, she has served as music director for more than 30 theater productions. During her career as a music educator, Anita has served as teacher, tutor, director, guest conductor, adjudicator, and clinician for local, regional, and state choirs.