‘Doc’ retires at 31 years

Faith Webb Entertainment Editor

With lifted hands and a smile and nod, the choir begins, conducted by Dr. Marjorie Simons-Bester, known as “Doc” by her students. Simons-Bester has been teaching music at East for 31 years. 

Simons-Bester was once a student at East., and after graduating she went on to pursue music education. She received her BA from Midland Lutheran College, and her masters degree from the University of Northern Colorado. Her strong family values brought her back to Nebraska, where she earned her doctorate in music at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. After receiving her doctorate, she came back to Bellevue, where she initially taught at  Fort Crook Elementary and Mission Middle School, before ultimately arriving back to Bellevue East High School. 

After over 40 years of teaching in BPS, Simons-Bester will be leaving with the graduating class of 2023. While she said it was a hard decision to make, her emotional wellbeing and financial security were her priorities.

“You need to make sure you are comfortable with the decision financially; you need to make sure that your finances are in order. There’s a certain time frame that you have to meet; I can’t just walk into Bellevue Public Schools’ main office and go ‘By the way, I’m retiring,’” Simons-Bester said. 

Her colleague, assistant director Cameron Stussie, started working with Simons-Bester 2 years ago. Stussie has worked closely with Simons-Bester, gaining knowledge about teaching , as well as forming bonds with the student.

“It’s been an incredible learning experience. Doc has a wealth of knowledge and a wealth of experience,” Stussie said. “Being able to ask her questions, watch her teach has helped improve my own skills as a teacher and has kind of helped me determine what areas I need to grow more on.” 

During her time at East, Simons-Bester has influenced the lives of many students, including alumni of Bellevue East and current students like senior choir member Micheal Duros.

“She gave me the work ethic. She provided me with how things should be done, especially in choir. She really helped out  with life skills like learning things on a time crunch, going with the flow, things like that and not necessarily having a set plan, but having an idea and just going with it,” Duros said.

While the future of the vocal music department is unknown, both staff and students are doing their best to prepare for the coming years.  East high singers member, senior Sylvia Trudell, has been working with Simons-Bester since her first year at East.

“For me, personally, I’m really happy that she’s going out with my class. I feel that, with her not being able to help incoming students grow as much, and to help get to the point that I’m at now vocally, I’m just kind of sad. It just sucks for anybody else coming into choir to not have her as a teacher,” Trudell said.

Simons-Bester not only gave the Bellevue East Vocal Music department inspiration, but also she was a positive role model, band ut a trusted adult. After 31 years of music dedication, her reputation and her skill will be greatly missed and appreciated by everyone. 

“Separation of church and state is something I have said to myself for years. I am not that good, but it is my belief that God is, and I am grateful for all that he has allowed me to do. Maybe I might be there to help someone, to guide someone, to be some form of encouragement, to give someone a good swift kick to the hindparts if they need it . It has been a pleasure and a privilege to be here for 31 years and the district for 44,” Simons-Bester said.