By Terilyn Chen
Sharon Lyons Calonico has taught at Hercules Middle High School since it first opened in 2001.
She currently teaches three middle school and two high school orchestras. She has also taught choir at HHS.
Before HMHS opened, Calonico, 53, also taught at other West Contra Costa Unified School District schools like El Cerrito High and a number of elementary schools.
Born in Dallas, Texas, Calonico moved to California when she was 6 years old, and has lived in the state since. Now, she is a Hercules resident. She graduated from Cal State East Bay, where she worked with prestigious mentors like Nathan Rubin and Denis de Coteau, the concertmaster of the Oakland Symphony and the conductor of the San Francisco Ballet orchestra, respectively.
Calonico always considered teaching music a possible career.
“I always loved both singing and playing my violin, so I thought it would fun to combine those two passions and become an orchestra and choir teacher,” Calonico said. Calonico does not choir this year, since new band teacher Jeff Berringon teaches it.
Most memorable moment in teaching career? “The Pops/Awards concert when the first group of students that I taught from 4th through 12th grade graduated. We were all “pioneers” together creating a string program in our district and they led the way and showed me what was possible for our program at HMHS,” said Calonico.
“I also wanted to be a professional violinist, but since I didn’t have much formal training when I was young, I wasn’t sure it was possible.”
Calonico was reassured of her dream upon attending a music camp at the University of the Pacific after her junior year of high school. She credits her experience at camp as what
“made [her] realize that [she] really wanted to become a professional musician.”
Eventually, Calonico auditioned for a spot in the Oakland East Bay Symphony, and was selected. She has now been a member of the OEBS for 30 years.
“I can’t imagine a better career – I am able to do both of [the] things I love, teaching and playing, and almost make a living!”