Bring! Bring! Biking away from the district office on a Monday morning, music teachers Allison Zenner, Keith Hunter, Gary Ortega and Shawn McGinn ring their bike bells at Palo Alto High School’s Churchill crosswalk. The clamor of clear notes is a fitting start to the week for these Palo Alto Unified School District bikers known as “Music Team5,” who, over the course of the work week, travel exclusively by bike to all 12 local elementary schools to teach music.
“If we weren’t traveling as a team, it’d be more challenging,” Zenner said. “Because we have each other, we’re always able to help pick the other person up make it to school on time, which is a miracle. It’s pretty fun.”
The Music Team5 Instagram account — has grown significantly over the past year — boasts nearly 200 followers and displays group pictures, fun biking videos and even music breathing exercises for their students. In addition, the Music Team5 runs a Twitter account and was recently featured on an episode of “The Rose Pedals Podcast,” which promotes a biking lifestyle. Music Team5 tries to make learning for students enjoyable by keeping a sense of humor and fun.
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“We started the Instagram and Twitter accounts hoping to help the parents to get to know us a little bit better,” Zenner said. “It’s really more for reaching out to the community.”
Another benefit of social media is the opportunity to set a good example.
“Change starts with one person, and starts with community awareness,” Zenner said. “We hope to be some of the examples around town of environmentally-friendly and healthy citizens.”
With Palo Alto’s bike-friendly weather, the music group hopes to encourage the community to embrace greener methods of transportation.
“Not only are we helping the environment but we hope to demonstrate how to maintain healthy minds and bodies,” Zenner said.
“We hope to be some of the examples around town of environmentally-friendly and healthy citizens.”
— Allison Zenner, PAUSD Music Teacher
As they become a prominent fixture of the PAUSD community, the Music Team5 hopes to show their students how to be environmentally conscious and resilient to obstacles while biking safely.
“The community’s eyes are on us,” Hunter said. “We teach many students and so when we’re biking, I think one of the things in the back of my mind is being conscious of are we riding safely? Are we being good examples for the community and our students? There’s some weight to that as we are trying to bike and have fun together.”
Overall, for the Music Team5, teaching music and biking to school is more than just a part of the job.
“It’s [biking in a group is] a lot better than working in isolation,” Hunter said. “And it feels great to be a part of something bigger than just one of us.”