Remembering Kayla Rigney

In 2019, we were looking for someone to lead our music program. Joe Rigney, a parent of two students in the school, told me that I should reach out to his sister-in-law, Kayla, as she and her husband Daniel would be moving to the Cities. I remember clearly the 45-minute phone call that I had with Kayla, exploring whether we would be a good fit for her. She was not short on qualifications, having led large high school choirs to state competitions in the unrivaled state of Texas.

She was not to join us that year, as she had two very young children and wanted to focus on settling in after the move to Minnesota. But thankfully, after she had moved and settled in, we resumed the conversation and she joined our staff in the fall of 2020.

Her drive for excellence and penchant for leading students was evident right away. She brought to life our vision of equipping students with the tools of music and praising the Lord together! From poignant community wide celebrations, like the 2020 Christmas-in-spite-of-Covid, to small impromptus like small groups of students lifting their voices together on warm spring days in the pavilion, she inspired the best in our students.

I remember clearly a second phone call, when she told me through tears that she didn’t think she could teach for the 2022-23 school year, having discovered that cancer had come to call. I told her not to worry about us; the Lord would provide. Her job was to focus on her family and her battle in that season. And battle she did—up to the end.

She joined us in December 2023 one last time for a treasured tradition called our Patron Choir. This is a group of parents, grandparents, and friends of the school who prepare each year a piece for our Christmas program. We want our students to see that we aren’t asking them to do what we aren’t willing to do ourselves. We are pursuing good things—beautiful things—together, and we want to invite them in. Kayla exemplified that to the end, pointing to God’s goodness in spite of the trial.

I—indeed we all—will miss her terribly. We were blessed beyond measure by the mark she left on the students and families of Agape Christi Academy.

Jed Culbertson

Kayla Rigney joins the Patron Choir for the 2023 Evening of Carols.
Agape Christi students perform “Caritas Christi Urget Nos,” a piece that was commissioned for Kayla Rigney.