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Music Theatre


  • Dan Ermel ’11
    Dan Ermel ’11
    Robert Tolchin Photography

Daniel Ermel ’11

Class Year



Musical Theatre

Current home

Wheeling, Illinois

Current position

Music teacher at Oak Terrace Elementary School in Highwood, Illinois

Daniel Ermel graduated from Carthage in 2011 with a degree in musical theatre/vocal performance. He wanted to act and direct — so he did.

He performed with multiple companies including Kohl’s Wild Theater, Madcap Puppets, and the Metropolis in Arlington Heights, Illinois. In early 2016, he was cast as “Burrs” in “The Wild Party” with The Up and Coming Theatre Company. He has also been the music director for projects with Buffalo Grove Singers, Citadel Theatre, and Big Deal Productions.

But it was a summer gig directing a kids’ music camp that became Mr. Ermel’s favorite role. He decided to pursue a teaching certificate, and soon afterward, he got a job teaching music to K-2 students at a bilingual elementary school in Highwood, Illinois. 

“Seventy percent of the students’ instruction is in Spanish, and I was part of the 30 percent of instruction in English,” he says. “I was fortunate enough to see every class for two half-hour sessions each week.”

Today, Mr. Ermel is a choir director at Glenbrook District 225 school in Glenbrook, Illinois.

“I am one of two choir directors,” he says. “I co-teach the freshman girls and top-level mixed choir. I also teach freshman boys, intermediate mixed choir and AP music theory. There are also a few extracurricular choirs that are shared between the two instructors.”

What have you enjoyed most about your career?

“The most enjoyable part of my career is its journey so far. I graduated with a performance degree, and was lucky enough to perform with various companies including Kohl’s Wild Theater, Madcap Puppets, and the Metropolis in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

“Eventually, I was approached by a friend to music direct for a summer camp (something I had never done before), but I took the challenge head on and loved every minute. I decided to return to Carthage in the summer of 2014 to enroll in the Accelerated Certification for Teachers program to obtain my teaching certificate in K-12 music.

“I’ve performed, directed, and now I am teaching. The journey so far has been great, and I look forward to seeing where it will take me.”

How did Carthage prepare you?

“The well-roundedness of the program at Carthage was extremely beneficial to my success. I didn’t just perform. I learned to build sets, to sew costumes, to direct one-acts. I spent a J-Term studying the wildlife in the Costa Rican rainforest. Carthage made me so much more than just an actor or a musician; it made me a person.”

“The exposure I had to such great models in my own educators really helped shape my teaching methods and philosophy. The education classes I took through the ACT programs also allowed me to really focus my studies on my subject field.”

How has your liberal arts education helped you?

“My first teaching experience was as a one-on-one aide in a self-contained special education classroom. My exposure to approaching problems from multiple angles and out-of-the-box thinking helped me understand the best way to work with each student. Recognizing that four students needed to be taught four different ways (and understanding how to approach this) made both my time and their time at school a success.”

Tips for current Carthage students:

“Do everything you can. College flies by and shapes you as a person. If you take advantage of being at such a strong program, you will benefit immensely from it. Never look at a situation as a hassle; look at it as an opportunity to grow. Even when you fail at something, you learn. Keep learning every day. Make bold choices.

“Never let your own insecurities or concerns get in the way of your success.”

Favorite Carthage memories:

“My favorite memories truly center around the faculty. There were so many times that we felt like extensions of the faculty, not products of them. We all taught each other and collaborated constantly. With this level of camaraderie, there exists a comfort in taking chances. And as comfortable as our relationship with the faculty was, there was never a lack of respect. Carthage showed me true interpersonal skills that no class can teach.”

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