Radu Noaghiu, a music teacher at Saint Vincent de Paul and St. Olaf schools, is leaving to return to his native Romania. While at 49 he is younger than the traditional American age for retirement, Noaghiu said that is just what he is going to do.
Noaghiu, who has taught music at both St. Vincent’s and St. Olaf’s for 20 years, came to the United States in 1999 after he was asked to conduct a choir at a music festival in Pocatello, Idaho. While there, he was invited to participate in a master’s program at Idaho State University. As he waited for the course to begin, he was offered a position as choir director at Sts. Peters and Paul Orthodox Church and as a volunteer teacher at St. Olaf’s. Ultimately, however, the Transylvania Music University graduate decided to pursue a master’s degree from the University of Utah in orchestra conducting.
The teaching job at St. Olaf’s evolved into a paid position once his work permit was approved, and soon he was teaching at St. Vincent’s too. Noaghiu has maintained that juggling act ever since. He has also found time to squeeze in conducting major concerts of the University of Utah’s Utah Philarmonia and symphony.
Now it’s time for another chapter in his life, he said. “There comes a time when you need a change,” he said. “I was lucky to have it that Romania had no problem with wars and human rights so I can go home.”
Because Noaghiu has spent his last 20 summers in Romania, the transition will be easy, he said. Once he gets settled, he plans to volunteer at his daughter Mara’s school, to continue to conduct and to travel. “I will be sorry for what I’m leaving here; I have a lot of memories, but I have to go back to my roots,” he said.
Noaghiu will be sadly missed, according to the principals at the two schools where he teaches. Simon McFall, St. Olaf principal, shared an experience he had recently with a parent who has had two children, separated by several years, at the school. “She was saying what a gift it was for her child to have him currently as her teacher and for her other child to have had him, with his incredible charisma and energy, how he touched both kids’ lives in a positive way and brings their experience together,” McFall said, adding that “Radu brings light and joy wherever he goes. When I hear things like this, it reaffirms everything I know and believe about him.”
St. Vincent Principal Gary Green had equally warm praise for the music teacher. “Mr. Radu is a brilliant musician who uses fun to help students become musicians themselves,” Green said. “Our students and staff will greatly miss his humor and positive spirit. He taught me that life is not just work, but is a gift to be enjoyed.”
Noaghiu is married to Alexandra Hustiu, who has been a member of the St. Vincent faculty, teaching English and literature since 2013. She previously taught at St. Francis Xavier School. She will be returning to Romania with her husband.
Jody Gibson, who had been an accountant at St. Vincent’s for 22 years, also retired recently. “Jody Gibson’s expertise has tremendously benefited our community. Most recently, she was an integral part of our Nano Nagle renovation and expansion,” Green said. “I am very grateful that Jody helped me learn the financial ropes as I transitioned from vice principal to principal.”