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Directors Who Make a Difference
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SBO’s 19th annual “50 Directors Who Make a Difference” once again showcases great music educators, each of whom were submitted from all 50 states.

Current and former students, colleagues, peers, parents and others admirers of these the band and orchestra directors submitted nominations for these outstanding band and orchestra directors. They were filled with moving stories of amazing and even life-changing experiences these educators created in their classrooms. SBO asked each teacher the same three questions. Once again, their answers are as diverse as their geographic locations and provide an encouraging look at today’s music educators around the country. And now, SBO proudly presents the 2016 class of 50 Directors Who Make a Difference!

ALABAMA

Name: Stan Chapman

School: Murphy High School

City/State: Mobile, Alabama

Total Years Teaching: 39

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 100 in Band, plus Advanced Placement Music Theory, International Baccalaureate Music, Jazz Improvisation

What is your proudest moment as an educator?

On Christmas Day 2012 we lost our school to a tornado. The band room was destroyed. We had to relocate behind another school into portables with little of our equipment. We had a local civic event scheduled (parade) about two weeks after we relocated. We scraped together our equipment, had our uniforms delivered to a local church, and staged the parade from there. The band made every performance, audition, and contest scheduled for that semester, plus the additional ones that are always showing up. They represented Murphy High School wonderfully with class and grace. No one thanked them for it. They knew it was their job and they did it. What a great group of young adults. Our future is in good hands.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I hope that they realize that music is more than just performing for high school functions. Music is a sublime means of communication that we, as humans, have invented. No one gave it to us, we did it. It will mark the most momentous events in their lives (weddings, deaths, first loves, happy times and sad times) and will provide solace at the worst events. Being able to perform, appreciate, and understand music will make those times more meaningful.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

I hope that my students realize that there is beauty and art all-around them and it is important that they seek out ways to incorporate it into their lives to make it more meaningful, whether it be with a community band, a local theater, a church, literature, visual art or as a performing musician.

Performing as an artist can span the gamut of their lives. The joy of performing actually increases with age.

ALASKA

Name: Dr. Mark Wolbers

School: University of Alaska Anchorage

City/State: Anchorage, Alaska

Total Years Teaching: 35

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 75

What is your proudest moment as an educator?

I am most proud when my college, community and high school students are engaging music with artistry and are self-actuated and committed to the expressive and interpretive success of the music.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

Like many music educators, I treat music as a language. I constantly model (sing or play) the emotional inflections and interpretive concepts to help students master the expressive idioms of the music we study. I hope that by teaching them how to “speak” music and to interpret it for themselves and others that I have contributed to a lifetime of rich musical experiences and understanding.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

The processes leading toward musical growth never ends. There is always more to learn, express and understand. I model this by involving students in my own professional practices of performing, conducting and teaching. In this way the walls between teacher and student are lowered. We experience a shared engagement in the educational, technical and interpretive challenges of being a musician.

ARIZONA

Name: Scott Werner

School: Corona del Sol High School

City/State: Tempe, Arizona

Total Years Teaching: 26

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 290 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

Seeing my own daughter take the field for the first time as a member of my own program. Knowing that she grew up watching this thing I do and then wanted to be a part of it was really meaningful to me. I’m always very proud of my students and all they accomplish, but having my daughter be a part of that? Priceless.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I hope to inspire a life long passion for music in my students, both as music-makers and as music enthusiasts. There are so many opportunities past high school for students to stay involved and continue making music. If I can spark that interest on any level, I will consider it a success.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

That hard work and persistence are worth it; that sometimes the payoff is in accolades and awards, but more often than not, the true rewards come from the process itself: working toward a goal, learning to collaborate with others, holding yourself to a high standard, experiencing the joy of a great performance, taking pride in your accomplishments. These are all life lessons they can take and use anywhere.

ARKANSAS

Name: Sean Carrier

School: Southside High School

City/State: Fort Smith, Arkansas

Total Years Teaching: 23

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: High school – 271, seventh grade - 12th grade – 800

What is your proudest moment as an educator?

Without a doubt it is commencement each year in May. I have the pleasure of watching our many seniors cross from student to alum. I am reminded of the times we spent together sweating in the summer heat and freezing in the winter cold. No matter what happened – time flew by way too fast. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go...” These leaders of the future are all grown up and I got to be a part of it. It’s a great job!

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I want to provide a safe and comfortable environment. I love to see students in the band room before school, at lunch and after school. Students know this is a place they can be themselves and be encouraged by others. I also hope to provide a framework for future success. What they learn in band can be carried over to many aspects of their lives. Hopefully the love of music and love of their fellow musicians stay with them forever.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

“Do better” and “Play like a champion today and every other day for the rest of your life.” In band and in life give your best every day. It doesn’t matter if you feel great or lousy – do your best. It doesn’t matter the final outcome – if you do your best you are a winner. Also “failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” Anything you choose to do is worth doing well. Give your best and you will get the best out of life.

CALIFORNIA

Name: Erik Radkiewicz

School: Pinole Valley High School

City/State: Pinole, California

Total Years Teaching: 15 years

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 72 band students What is your proudest moment as an educator?

The proudest moments I have are after performances and I see the band students congratulate each other on a job well done. There is a lot of practice and rehearsal that leads up to that moment. The fact that they acknowledge the hard work in each other is an experience that I do enjoy.

The other moments that I do enjoy is at the other end of the spectrum, before the performance. Watching our Juniors and Seniors teaching the younger band members and practicing with them as well. All I attempt to do is give all of them an opportunity to seek out information and a place to practice... with a metronome.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

The difference I would like to make is to help them make the realization that they are responsible. Music holds you accountable, you can play it well or you can play poorly. It is your choice. Music does reward hard work and discipline as does your instrument.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

The important lesson that I hope band students take away from the band room is if they work for it they can achieve a goal. If you are a third clarinet or French Horn do your work because their is value in both jobs. Enjoy the process every moment practicing pays off in the performance.

COLORADO

Name: Blake T. Unger

School: Rock Canyon High School

City/State: Highlands Ranch, Colorado

Total Years Teaching: 5

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 150 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

Some of the proudest moments throughout my career that have made me smile seem simplistic and small in comparison to competitions, concerts, and other large notable achievements for the band. However, these proud moments come about when I see students apply the knowledge and skills that they have learned through participation in the band program and enact these skills as a team in order to help others achieve something larger than themselves. I am so impressed when I see student leaders going out of their way to help support our program and our school, watching woodwind players organizing their own sectionals with peers, and especially when I observe students take a personal stake in making the ensembles and their classmates play and feel better than they were the day before. Witnessing students start to be more proactive and hold themselves accountable in their lives always creates extremely proud moments for me.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

Our goal as directors is to teach students a variety of lessons through this wonderfully unique medium of music. My hope is that we foster an environment here in RCHS Bands that challenges students to push themselves to a standard they didn’t think they were capable of reaching as individuals and as an ensemble. My wish is that our students feel confident in taking the array of different skills they learn and develop in the band program here and continue to use them throughout their career and daily lives long after they end their time here with us.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

Band programs everywhere are responsible for teaching students so many valuable lessons to use throughout these formative years and even after high school. The lesson that we try and place the most importance on here at RCHS Bands is that no matter what you are doing, whether it be an ensemble rehearsal, a marching band competition, a personal practice session, an assignment in another class, a peer interaction, working in an unfamiliar environment, etc. it is always imperative that you give 110 percent of your effort for yourself and your peers. We hope that students here learn to place great importance on giving maximum effort as individuals and charge themselves with the task of encouraging their peers to do the same. I want our kids to leave here knowing that it is important to be passionate, work hard, and at times find intrinsic motivation to achieve those efforts.

CONNECTICUT

Name: John S. Yoon

School: Greenwich High School

City/State: Greenwich, Connecticut

Total Years Teaching: 30 years of teaching (25 at Greenwich) Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 180 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

I’ve recently had the privilege of receiving letters from many of my former students, including recent students and some from students who graduated more than 20 years ago. I was incredibly grateful, humbled, and proud to learn that my teaching had a positive and lasting influence in their lives.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I hope to make a difference in my students’ lives by helping them discover what they are truly passionate about. If music ends up being just a hobby, at least they will have been given the chance to uncover it for themselves. So much can be learned through music that no matter what field they decide to pursue, they will have gained invaluable lessons that will guide them through the rest of their lives.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

The most important lesson that I try to teach my students is what it means to be a good human being. As a music educator, if I’ve only taught my students how to be good musicians and nothing else, I have essentially failed them as individuals.

DELAWARE

Name: Lloyd Walton

School: Shue Medill Middle School

City/State: Newark, Delaware

Total Years Teaching: 21 years teaching experience Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 142 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

I have many high points as an educator former middle schoolers thriving in their high school music program; 6th graders facing their first middle school concert with excellence; former students entering college to become music educators. But what really thrills me is when a struggling student has a break through light bulb moment. Their hard work pays off, and often an entire class can applaud their efforts.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

Having an opportunity to teach kids for three years, I wind up wearing more hats than just educator: coach, counselor , really a whole child concept. The middle school years can be a make - -or- break time for some kids on the edge—I make every effort to guide, direct and encourage these students.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

I want to instill in my students a growth mindset that hard work will pay off, no matter what they seek to accomplish. These kids live in a “microwave” world with the Internet at their fingertips. I want their music study to teach them that some things in life must come at “Crock-Pot” speed—they must develop the grit to stay the course for their goals.

FLORIDA

Name: John Seth

School: Flagler Palm Coast High School

City/State: Palm Coast, Florida

Total Years Teaching: 13 years

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 220 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

I am proud to be a part of the student’s development. As an educator it is enjoyable to see the students grow and flourish as young people, students, leaders and musicians. As the students mature, they learn that it is no longer about them but it is about the group they are apart of. They learn how to motivate and encourage each other through constructive feedback or how to handle a situation with thoughtful decision making. It is always wonderful to see a student who can independently use his or her own experiences to be a good problem solver. To all the former students who are out making a difference in their communities or that have continued in music, I am very proud of you.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I hope to make a difference in my student’s lives by giving them the tools to perform and experience great music. The study of any musical instrument takes much focus and discipline. Music is heard through the beauty of sound and how sound moves from one note to the next. The engagement of the students into the exploration of how the music moves is where the discovery takes place and it is through the performance of this discovery where the art of great music literature is experienced. It is through these unique experiences where lives are impacted and forever changed. This was passed down to me from Dr. Bobby Adams and can be read about in his book “Music from Skill to Art,” GIA Publications, Inc.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

My most influential professor taught me to, “be a person.” Being a person means investing time to create the environment in which one lives. Every person has their own unique experiences to contribute to one another. When there is an atmosphere of respect and compassion, people are more open to listen, learn, share and be involved. No matter how small or large, it is critical to take responsibility and ownership in the community of which they are a part. Time should be spent developing relationships and contributing their time to help others. People should know when to listen and follow someone’s lead or when to take the opportunity to step in when leadership is needed. The thoughtful engagement and participation into one’s surroundings is of great significance.

GEORGIA

Name: Tricia Laux

School: Dickerson Middle School

City/State: Marietta, Georgia

Total Years Teaching: 15 total years teaching

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 512 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

I am fortunate to have had many moments throughout my career that have given me great pride as an orchestra director. I have loved to see the moment my beginning sixth-graders exit the stage after their first performance, to overhearing seventh-graders rave about their experience at an Atlanta Symphony Orchestra field trip, the moments of pride are frequent. Every year however one moment stands out above all others: seeing my eighth-graders leave for high school having realized only hours remain with their orchestra peers. During this moment they reflect on what an amazing three years they have had making music together. It is incredible to see the connections that music has helped foster and the lives that this orchestra program have changed.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

The difference I hope to make for all of my students is to provide for them a place to be who they are and to learn and grow without judgement. Every student is unique and each of them contributes their talents differently to make our orchestra family a wonderful place to live. Each and every student deserves to have an awesome musical foundation so that music is not just a middle school experience but one that they will continue to experience for a lifetime. I hope that I can continue to be that difference for all of my students now and all those students that will be excited to begin their journey in orchestra for years to come.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

The most important lesson I teach my students each year is to realize what they are truly capable of in music and in life. After teaching middle school for 15 years I have learned that each student has their own individual challenges so I try to instill in them a confidence so that they can continue to persevere even when they face new challenges that are difficult. Middle schoolers tend to doubt themselves and are still finding out who they are each day. I hope that my classroom is a place of self-realization and confidence building for each student and that this strength will carry over for them beyond the walls of my classroom.

HAWAII

Name: Jeffrey Boeckman

School: University of Hawai’i at Ma ̄noa

City/State: Honolulu, Hawai’i

Total Years Teaching: 22

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 200

What is your proudest moment as an educator?

I think our proudest moments come in seeing and hearing our students realize their potential as musicians and artists, and beyond that as members of society.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

Education lives in the space between the way the world is and the way the world could be. I think we all hope to motivate and inspire our students to exceed and thereby redefine their own expectations for themselves, and to encourage them farther down the road of intrinsic motivation.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

Boy, I wish I were able to boil everything down to one. For me, the musical and music education pillars all support and reinforce each other. My essentials are Continuous Improvement and Make Musical Decisions.

IDAHO

Name: Wayne Manning

School: Preston High and Preston Junior High City/State: Preston, Idaho

Total Years Teaching: 10

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 75 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

My proudest moment is when the students perform their music with passion, expression and accuracy that transponds those feelings of emotions which in turn excites an audience to respond to the students with vigorous applause, cheers and a standing ovation that shows honor and respect to the students for a “job well done.” Then, students experiencing this reception and knowing for themselves that they “DID IT” and they were successful in creating that moment of musical accomplishment.

I also love it when the struggling student tries and tries until they finally “get it” and then they realize that they really CAN do it and they love the experience that music mastery gives them.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

Growing up with parents who were music educators instilled in me a deep love and appreciation of how important music is in our lives. Music has carried me through many ups and downs and has helped me to be a better-rounded individual with more of an open mind to life.

I hope to instill in the minds and hearts of my students that same kind of love of music and the value it can have for them. Also, to have an appreciation for music that can carry them throughout their lives whether they continue to play their instruments or just allow it to be a therapeutic friend to bring them enjoyment and peace.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

I try to teach my students that persistence and conscientious effort in working at a goal whether it be in prac ce or performance WILL achieve the desired results. I desire to educate my students that learning music IS a very important part of their lives and that as they keep working to do the right things with music, they can apply that effort to their future lives which will give them the confidence they need to become very successful at any good ambition that they set their hearts to.

ILLINOIS

Name: Barbara Saks

School: Park View School

City/State: Morton Grove, Illinois

Total Years Teaching: 32 Years

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 310 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

The proudest moment, to date, took place three years ago. Jaesen, an eighth grade band student had just lost his mother to cancer. The band students wanted to do something for him – they asked to dedicate a special selection at the final concert to Jaesen and his family. I chose Every Winter’s Breath by Randall Standridge. The students practiced diligently. (This age group, sixth to eighth grade, is not always receptive to working on slower more emotional music!). We performed it at contest and festival. My students wanted to play this as perfectly as possible. At their request, I asked the clinicians to focus all comments for improvement on that selection. Our final performance WAS truly magical. The kids had kept the dedication a secret, (no small feat for junior high students)! Jaesen and his family were totally surprised and very moved by the dedication.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I am hopeful that my students will want music to play an active role in their lives. I also want them to know there is a whole world outside of Morton Grove. I use music as a vehicle to show them this. For example, I recently programmed Curse of Tutankhamun by Michael Story – having been to Egypt, I brought in photos and shared my adventures there. Yearly, I take the students downtown to see a musical – for some, it is their first opportunity experiencing one. After attending a festival, I arrange an additional side trip to some place in Chicago – the Pullman Community, the Opera House, the Chapel in the Sky – places many students do not know exist. Several former students have told me that their eyes were “opened to a whole new world” having been part of the PV band program – a world they are excited to explore.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

“To be on time is to be EARLY” and “HOW you practice determines HOW you will perform.” These are the two basic lessons I try to “drum into my students heads” during their entire time in the PV band program! I do so because I believe such advice may be applied to anything and everything my students do as members in the band program, and for the rest of their lives. I think/hope that those that follow such advice will lead happy and fulfilled lives.

INDIANA

Name: Michael Satterthwaite

School: Adams Central Community

Schools City/State: Monroe, Indiana

Total Years Teaching: 38

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 210 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

My proudest moments involve watching my students succeed. Whether that’s a young musician or an upperclassman, I love those moments when they achieve something they didn’t believe was possible. That might be our marching band having a great show, our concert bands achieving a great rating at state festivals, or our beginners conquering the exercise that was “to hard to play.”

I run into them years later and they relate how our activity changed them, or got them through school. Now their kids are in band somewhere!

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I hope that the work ethic and life lessons learned through music and performance will assist them in being successful at whatever they choose to become. I hope we’ve given them the tools they need to be lifelong supporters of the arts in their communities.

I hope we’ve enriched their lives, and allowed them to be more...human. What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

That the arts matter. They help make us who we are. Music doesn’t care who you are, where you’ve come from, whether you’re rich or poor, or have had a bad day. The music is waiting for you to embrace it, to unlock it, to share it with others. You have to develop the tools to turn the music into something beautiful. Hard work, dedication, and a commitment to success is what’s required for you to succeed in music....and in life.

IOWA

Name: Dr. Steven Smyth

School: Iowa State University

City/State: Ames, Iowa

Total Years Teaching: 18 years of teaching

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 600 across 4 concert bands and 8 athletic bands.

What is your proudest moment as an educator?

That second between the last note and the applause. It is that moment when the students and the conductor can share a look that says both “thank you and you’re welcome.” After that it becomes all about the students’ relationship with the audience, but that moment of shared silence is truly when I know I am in the right profession.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I love the saying “leaders create cultures and cultures create leaders.” It is my hope that our students experience a culture in our ensembles that encourages not just excellence in performance, but a belief in the process toward that performance. While I am always pleased when one of our students moves on to make a living through music.... I am far more focused on teaching the students to live their lives through the lessons learned in band.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students? Band is not life.... but it’s a great way of life.

KANSAS

Name: Robert Davis

School: Olathe Northwest High School

City/State: Olathe, Kansas

Total Years Teaching: 6

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 362 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

I can think of so many occasions! Marching down 5th Avenue in NYC performing for the veterans and shaking their hands at the National Veterans Day Parade. Watching my kids meet Will Mathews of the Count Basie Orchestra and having him work with them after they won the Kansas City Jazz Summit Basie Competition, being a part of our school concert band’s first state convention performance for the Kansas Music Educator’s Convention... So many others! But really, I think the things that I am most proud of are the ordinary moments of an everyday rehearsal when students have those “aha” moments, those intangible aesthetic moments that can’t be described, but you can see from their eyes in an instant that the art of music is powerful and exciting! Those truly are the moments I find the most pride in having the incredible job I do.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I want them to be happy. I hope that music and their experience in band class helps to make them appreciate art, people, and everyday living at a superlative level. I hope that the rigor of the course and the life lessons learned in rehearsals and performance help to build their characters for bright futures in whatever they may choose to do.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

I want my students to value one another. I want them to understand that when people get together and work toward a common goal, extraordinary things are possible! I hope they value collaboration and have the ability to put into practice the traits of a good band program regarding work ethic, time

management, determination, listening to others... As important, I want them to value music. I want them to find a passion for any genre or genres that help them find joy. It’s that simple.

KENTUCKY

Name: Christopher A. Tolliver

School: South Hopkins Middle School/Hopkins County Central High School

City/State: South Hopkins, Nortonville, Kentucky/Hopkins Central, Madisonville, Kentucky Total Years Teaching: 32

Number of Students in Instrumental Program: 158

What is your proudest moment as an educator?

I have experienced many proud moments in my teaching career. Part of my educational philosophy is that I want students to experience the joy and yes, fun, from this awesome discipline of music. When this happens, I am so very proud.

I have had the good fortune to work with some of the finest music educators in my career span. From each I try to learn, as I feel that we are never too old to be true learners. My current team of John Grace and David Moss makes me proud daily as our team teaching is effective for the cause of true music education. David is a product of my earlier bands and a past recipient of this award – both are proud moments.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I choose to base a lot of my thoughts and actions as a teacher upon those who have influenced me. I in turn hope to influence my students. I hope that they might see a teacher who is caring, thoughtful and an encourager. I want my students to know that I care about their musical talents and try my best to encourage them to keep up with musical endeavors, long after public school education is completed.

I want my students to see that music can help you through some of life’s most trying moments – marriages, starting families, loss of spouses, personal health crises – the peace and solace that I have learned through music is something that I hope I will demonstrate to my students.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

From early childhood, I was taught and modeled, how music was more than just a practice session. The love of music happened because I had those in my life who chose to challenge and teach me personal disciplines. Music has allowed me the opportunity to get lost in the the moment and allowed me the opportunity to appreciate the efforts of those around me and knowing what a sacrifice it took to make that wonderful performance of which I sat in awe. Music has allowed me the most wonderful of friends. When I think about what it means to me and how affects me, THAT is what I want my students to see and hopefully to aspire for music to do the same for them.

LOUISIANA

Name: Jeffrey C. Mathews

School: Northwestern State University

City/State: Natchitoches, Louisiana

Total Years Teaching: 26

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 330 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

In my 26 years of teaching I have had many occasions to be proud of an ensemble’s performance in concert and on the marching field. To choose one single moment out of all those would be impossible. However, one of the things I enjoy the most about band directing at the college level is being part of a team that works together in preparing and mentoring future music educators. It’s always a pleasure when I have the opportunity to witness the work of our music education students after they have entered the profession. Watching them grow and mature as teachers and hearing great music from their ensembles is a joy. Having been a small part of their preparation is what makes me the most proud.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

Aiding students regardless of major in completing their degrees and offering them some life skills is very important to me. In pursuit of this goal I often work with parents to obtain the best financial aid package possible for our incoming students. Most of our students require some kind of financial aid in order to go to college. In our program we not only work to provide a quality musical experience but also encourage time management, loyalty, dedication and work ethic. Marching band can be very time consuming, but we do our dead level best to be an academics first organization in order help our students succeed. If I can help a student earn a degree, I know I have made a difference in their lives.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

Here I will have to rely on my close work with music education majors to provide an answer. One of the axioms I try to ingrain into my students is “A superior rating should not be the goal of their teaching, but the product of their teaching.” I stress to them that their job is not to bring home gold and silver plastic trinkets to the put in the trophy case. Their job is to teach each individual student to be the best musician that student can be. If they take this ground up approach of first teaching students all the proper fundamentals, then the rest will come naturally. A band full of well taught, fundamentally sound students will have no trouble making superior ratings.

MAINE

Name: Christopher G. White

School: University of Maine

City/State: Orono, Maine

Total Years Teaching: 29 years teaching

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 200 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

I cannot pick any one moment as a defining moment. The best moments are the times when I get a letter from a former student thanking me for being a teacher/mentor/role model. The moment of reflection validates all the work and keeps the positive energy flowing.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I hope that I am, in fact, a good role model, teacher and mentor. I put my best into everything that I do and hope that those that leave the program will want to do the same for their students.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

There are two things we always want to strive to do well. To make a great first impression and to make a great last impression. This applies not only to a performance, but to everything we do in life. When you think about it, everything we do can be a first impression or a last impression. If we remember that, we will always do well.

MARYLAND

Name: Mark Eisenhower

School: Col. Zadok Magruder High School

City/State: Rockville, Maryland

Total Years Teaching: 35 years

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 135 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

Over a career filled with many proud moments, perhaps my proudest has been having several of my former students become colleagues. There are currently over half a dozen graduates of the Magruder band and orchestra program teaching instrumental music in Montgomery County and our neighbor Howard county. It is very satisfying to know that the musical experiences they had as students here helped to inspire them to become music educators and pass their love for music on to future generations of young musicians.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

A student’s life changes forever when they have a meaningful experience with music. By performing and interacting with a wide variety of musical styles, I hope to help students develop their ability and desire to connect music to all aspects of their lives. If our students continue to actively use music, whether as listeners, consumers or performers, to define and enhance their lives and the world they live in, then a difference has been made!

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

I try to teach them the importance of striving for excellence in everything they choose to do on a daily basis. Excellence takes time, persistence and focus. Growth and satisfaction comes from identifying the things you’re passionate about and applying all of the excellence you are capable of to them. If my students have learned this through their involvement with music, then they will have a great foundation for success throughout their lives.

MASSACHUSETTS

Name: Aaron W. Bush

School: Pollard Middle School City/State: Needham, Massachusetts

Total Years Teaching: 10

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 250 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

Seeing my students discover their own identities brings me a tremendous amount of joy. Working with middle school kids, I often times encounter young people who’ve yet to discover who they are. Helping them find success musically leads to independent thinking, creativity, pride, and passion for all that they do.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I encourage my students to constantly raise their standards never settle for anything less than your best work. I believe in them, I care about them, and I am willing to do whatever it takes to help them find success. Nothing worthwhile in life is easy, but the struggle is what makes it so valuable and provides an opportunity for growth.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

I do my best to teach students to be excellent at whatever it is they’re doing. This excellence comes from attention to detail and working harder than everyone else. Playing in an ensemble is about being part of something greater than one’s self, being dedicated to constant improvement, and being reliable to others. If they can achieve that excellence in an ensemble setting, they can achieve excellence in anything they seek to do.

MICHIGAN

Name: Brandon Ivie

School: Boyne City Public Schools

City/State: Boyne City, Michigan

Total Years Teaching: 17

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 192 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

As an educator, my proudest moments are when other directors, teachers, and community members tell me how helpful, polite and friendly our students are. It is a wonderful thing to be a great musician but it is far more important to be a great person. It always makes my day to hear positive comments from colleagues about our students when we are at various events.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

In band, we learn life lessons through the study of music. I want my students to become great musicians and also wonderful people. There are many individuals whose guidance and expertise have shaped who I am as an educator, but I take a lot of my teaching philosophy from my high school director, David Mumma. In his band, everyone had value and importance. We struggled together and had success as a team. We learned how to play great music but also learned how to be better people. I hope to offer this type of experience for my students: for them to be part of something special... something bigger than themselves.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

Enjoy the journey. To me, music is not only about the end result, but also about all that it takes to produce it. We spend far more time preparing for a performance than in the performance itself. I want us to enjoy that time. I want us to learn and strive to be better every time we get to play together. There are a finite number of days before some students graduate and new members join the ensemble. Enjoy working with those who are around you now. Nothing beats enjoying what you do!

MINNESOTA

Name: Stacey Juntunen Searle

School: East Grand Forks Senior High School City/State: East Grand Forks, Minnesota

Total Years Teaching: 18

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 77 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

I have had so many “proud moments” in my teaching career, but it’s the ones that happen on any given day that are my favorite. It makes me proud when that “light bulb” moment happens and the jazz solo a student has been working on finally makes sense and works out, or when my students are recognized and acknowledged by their peers or the public for a job well done. It also makes me proud when I see my older students welcoming incoming freshmen and teaching them about our band traditions and making them a part of our department. I also love reconnecting with former students and hearing how band made a difference for them and/or how music is still a part of their life.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

The East Grand Forks band is a family. We pride ourselves on providing a “judgment free” zone in our band room. I always want each and every one of my students to feel safe and to feel like they are a needed and important part of our group no matter what their playing level is. Whether it’s the triangle part, third clarinet or lead trumpet – ALL PARTS and MEMBERS MATTER! That being said, everyone is expected to do his or her part and strive for the best performance possible!

I also want to instill a love of music so that when my students become parents, they encourage their own kids to join the band!

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

First and foremost, I want my students to understand that music is a life long gift. You don’t need to be a professional musician to enjoy playing throughout your lifetime. I also want them to be kind, have compassion for others, to realize their self worth and to be confidant in who they are. Don’t be afraid of opportunities and challenges – they might take you to exciting places! Let the music drive you!

MISSISSIPPI

Name: Jeff Colburn

School: Amory High School City/State: Amory, Mississippi

Total Years Teaching: 12

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 302 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

In a previous teaching position, I was the only band director at a small school. One afternoon, I was unavoidably detained just as our after-school rehearsal was set to begin. A task I thought would take a few seconds ended up taking about ten minutes, and by the time I finally left the band hall, I was a little frustrated at the loss of time. As I approached the practice field, I found that the drum major and section leaders had started rehearsal on time with our marching fundamentals block and were transitioning into the warmup. Every student was actively participating in the rehearsal. One definition of character is who you are when you think no one is watching. Those students showed good character that day.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I hope to make a difference in my student’s lives by teaching them that we are meant to be loving and creative. How we relate to others and what we are willing to contribute are defining factors for us all. We are at our best when we treat others with love and respect and when we bring beauty and quality into the world around us. I believe that involvement in school musical ensembles is one of best vehicles we have for teaching this.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

That time is the most valuable commodity on earth. We only have so much of it, we don’t know how much we have, we can’t make more, we can’t borrow it, we can’t save it to use later, and when it runs out, it’s gone. We must make the most of every minute and we must choose wisely what we pursue with the limited time we have.

MISSOURI

Name: Cindy Price Svehla

School: Liberty South Valley Middle School, Liberty North High School City/State: Liberty, Missouri

Total Years Teaching: 31 years

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 500

What is your proudest moment as an educator?

My proudest moment (there are many) would have to be sitting in the audience in a club in New York City, New York watching and listening to a former student who worked hard and made it big in this profession as a performer. In 2009, alumni clarinet students performed with the liberty high school band at the Missouri music educators association convention performing the Weber Clarinet Concerto No.2 Mvt III. Proud moments daily are of all my students who make it happen. Action speaks. I am most proud of the students who continue to make music in their adult lives.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I want to make a difference in all my students lives through music education but most importantly, through teaching them about teamwork, per-serverence, time management, muscianship and taking personal responsibility. Teaching them to see the big picture and working together for the whole and

learning their individual potential through music. I hope they will have a lifelong appreciation of the arts no matter what path they take.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students? Personal responsibility. Don’t settle for mediocrity. Have fun on this journey.

MONTANA

Name: Leon Slater

School: Hellgate High School

City/State: Missoula, Montana

Total Years Teaching: 20

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 150

What is your proudest moment as an educator?

This is a hard one – there are honestly so many amazing students and moments in time that rush forward when I reflect on that question. I think the best moments are when students step forward, time after time, to help each other grow. A close second is when a former student texts or writes about our time together and shares a memory and/ or shares how that is helping them in college or the “real world”.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

Reminding myself and my students that none of this matters if we can’t accomplish it in kindness. No accomplishment, viewpoint, winning an argument or “pushing” someone to do be better is worth more than kindness. That combined with an awareness of the amazing nature of life and how music helps us be in touch with the present moment (exact moment in time) as we create together.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

Music is a practice of listening to others and being willing to align with them for a greater purpose (the creation of effective music). Through all aspects of ensemble performance, we are constantly practicing this very important life skill of listening to others and being open and willing to change. When we do this art form right, it helps us become better people.

NEBRASKA

Name: Nathan LeFeber

School: Kearney High School

City/State: Kearney, Nebraska

Total Years Teaching: 12 years

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: There are 170 in the band and about 450 in the whole music program.

What is your proudest moment as an educator?

My proudest moment as an educator (to date!) would have to be in 2014 when the KHS Jazz Ensemble was invited to perform at our band directors convention. The students worked so hard and it was such a joy and release for all of us to go on the stage and just have fun. No teacher/student relationship but rather all collaborators!

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I hope to make a difference in the lives of students by opening my life to them. I am a fallen man with many faults and failings but I am also passionate about helping kids find truths out about themselves and hopefully point them to the path to success for their lives. Through all of the muck and mire of life I am convinced there is a higher calling, a greater purpose. Kids might not know what that is but I can walk along side them to help them find it.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

The most important lesson I try to teach my students is the responsibility they have to the bigger picture. Their actions and behaviors every moment affect and change those around them. Are they going to be a positive change agent or not?

NEVADA

Name: Kenny Baker

School: McQueen High School

City/State: Reno, Nevada

Total Years Teaching: 12

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 189 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

There is no possible way I can isolate one single proudest moment as an educator. My students never cease to inspire me to be better for them. Whether performing in an honor ensemble, playing in a jazz festival, or while working with a student one on one as they have the “aha” moment, they’re all my proudest. I love seeing children succeed and reach the potential they never knew they could.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I want my students to know I believe in them. In today’s world, youth are constantly degraded and demoralized the future is painted as bleak and grim. I know our future is in good hands because I work with our future every day. My students take time out of their everyday lives to improve their craft during class, in after school rehearsals, performances, and practicing independently in order to present a product to their families and friends. I want them to know this is something special and they are a unique group of people who make the world a better place through their gift of music.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

I want my students to learn two lessons: grit and gratitude. I want my students to never give up, especially when someone says they can’t. I want them to learn how to attack a problem head on and never give up until the problem is solved. I want my students to also be thankful for the big and small things in their lives. I want them to offer the world their talents in return for all which they have worked so hard for, and for what has been given to them.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Name: Diane Francoeur

School: Manchester High School

City/State: West Manchester, New Hampshire

Total Years Teaching: 24 years in education

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 53 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

My proudest moments are when my students act selflessly. When they step up and initiate a community service project to help families in need, when they take the time to mentor a younger Band student, when they stay after school to practice together, when they clean up the room or set up for rehearsal without being asked, when they are kind and sweet and respectful to each other, when they take the time to ask me how I am when I know they are going through a tough time in their own life... those are my proudest moments. Knowing that they find peace and acceptance in my room also makes me very proud and thankful.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I hope that my students will always remember the peace and joy they felt in the Band room and carry that feeling into all other aspects of their lives. I believe that music brings color to an otherwise black and white world. I hope that they always see the world in beautiful colors.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

The most important lessons in life are to stay positive and to never give up. Be a leader, not only with others, but also in your own life. Find positive role models and use them to bring yourself to a higher level. Challenge yourself and be proud of who you are and your individuality. Embrace diversity and find strength in the differences around you. Together we are stronger!!! Enjoy learning and making music, and do whatever you can to make this world a better place!

NEW JERSEY

Name: Michael Iapicca

School: Parsippany Hills High School

City/State: Parsippany, New Jersey

Total Years Teaching: 15

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 95 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

Our spring concert in 2015 was the last one for the class I followed when I moved from teaching middle school to high school. They were seniors, and I had taught these students for six consecutive years. As I was introducing the final piece on the program, two senior band members interrupted me so they could present me with a gift. After I opened the beautiful custom baton they bought me, I noticed there was now a line of students waiting to step up to the microphone. Each student telling a story, sharing a moment, or venting about how annoying I could be. I stood on stage overwhelmed with emotion. I was in awe of how music had shaped their lives and of the amazing young men and women they had become. The mutual feeling of admiration between those students and myself is

something I will never forget. Whenever I’m going through a difficult time, I think back to that night and I’m reminded of two things; the awesome power music, and how blessed I am to be a teacher.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I try to make a difference in the lives of my students by making their experience in band meaningful, expressive and artistic. I strongly believe that if you show students the meaning of the music they are playing, beyond the written notation, it will have an enormous impact on their lives.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

I basically try to teach one lesson every day; play your instrument with integrity and purpose. Playing an instrument and being a part of the band is insignificant if you don’t have a purpose for doing it. It should not be about a grade, or how good it looks on a college resume. Playing music should be about communicating feeling by interpreting printed symbols on the page. When you play music with purpose, you become emotionally invested in practicing and performing. When that happens, music becomes an irresistible force in the lives of students.

NEW MEXICO

Name: Phil Perez

School: Manzano High School

City/State: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Total Years Teaching: 4

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 135 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

My proudest moment of every year is graduation. Seeing my students walk up to get their diploma after four years of hard work is very special. When I reflect on the first time I met them and the journey they have taken since then makes me very proud. I know that the path to graduation is not always easy—there are many obstacles and distractions along the way. That one day every year when I see my students dressed in a cap and gown, ready to take on the next chapter of their life, always makes me smile. It is tough to see them go, but I know they have great things waiting for them in the future.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I hope to make a positive impact on students’ lives by making them not only better musicians, but better people. Our motto is “Be better than the band you were yesterday,” which means that they work toward being the best version of themselves, not better than other people or other bands. It teaches them to strive for themselves and not for a score or a placement.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

The most important lesson I have for my students is to be good people. I strive to have my students be the most caring, understanding and respectable people that they can be. I know that all of my students will not grow up to be world class musicians or music teachers. However, they will all grow up and be members of society and I want them to be a part of making the world a good place. When my students leave high school, I hope they remember that our band is a family that they will always have. When my students stay in touch with each other and myself after they have graduated, it shows me that those bonds they have created are unbreakable, and that makes me very happy.

NEW YORK

Name: Daniel Fabricius

School: Owego Free Academy

City/State: Owego, New York

Total Years Teaching: 38

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 75 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

Although bands that I’ve conducted have received plenty of awards, recognitions, and honors it is definitely the “nonevents” that makes me feel most proud of my work. I’m proud when we break from rehearsal and most of the students leave the room singing themes from our music as they happily walk to their next class. I’m proud that my students recognize the greatness of masterwork compositions and show their desire to work hard toward artistic performances. I’m proud when students become passionate about music and take ownership of our performances. I’m proud when students can passionately communicate their responses to a performance. I’m proud when I hear from alumni who tell me that they have found a way to make music after high school.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

Sometimes students just need a place where they can just be a small part of a group that they can be proud of. Students may have varying degrees of interest, ability, and commitment but they all want to be in this class called band because of their love of music. They know that music is a part of who they are and some will even embrace music as a constant in their lives. But it is my hope that every student will graduate knowing that their participation in music creates some special feeling that makes them feel alive.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

We do our best to prepare for artistic performances but our mission isn’t just about what the students can do with music. Yes, they’ll learn important life lessons concerning responsibility, time management, work ethic and teamwork. They’ll also learn to make instantaneous decisions as they play music, involving time, pitch and musical nuance. And although everyone may desperately want to be a more competent player, they learn to work hard but to also be patient with everyone’s individual progress. However, the most important lesson is about why it’s so important to have the arts in our lives. Hopefully they will learn that it is OK to feel something as a response to the amazing sound of music.

NORTH CAROLINA

Name: Anita Hynus

School: Martin GT Magnet Middle

School City/State: Raleigh, North Carolina

Total Years Teaching: 37

Number of Students in Instrumental/ Music Program: 150

What is your proudest moment as an educator?

My proudest moments as an educator were collaborating with the former drama teacher with original plays that involved my strings students. My students have been soldiers in The Civil War, Irishmen on the Titanic, musicians in A Midsummer’s Nights Dream, background music for a play about the western part of North Carolina, the story of A Thousand Cranes and even part of the Phantom of the Opera. All of this was on stage and in competitions. I, personally, felt that I had finally hit the jackpot and someone took what I did with my students in my classroom and made the music have such a purpose in the student’s lives. Other proud moments is having students continue to make contact with me to tell me how they have used what they learned in my class in their daily lives. It makes my heart so warm to hear this.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I hope that my students see the joy that I get out of helping them learn and explore music and playing an instrument. Music is more than just notes on the page to me, it’s heart.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

Music has a purpose that involves more than just playing. It involves history, math, science, the classics and all aspects of other subjects. Music can be that moment in your day that you feel comfortable and useful in your daily lives.

NORTH DAKOTA

Name: Sigurd Johnson

School: North Dakota State University

City/State: Fargo, North Dakota

Total Years Teaching: 23

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 200 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

I think I am pretty much in line with my fellow educators in saying that my proudest moment or moments as a teacher of music happens whenever the “light” goes on with a student. If I have been able to find the right words, the right piece to use to teach a musical concept, the right combina on of players and setting, etc. If that sets off the “moment” for the student – the understanding and excitement of what is there in the music – then I’ve done my work and can feel proud.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

Being involved mainly in the music education side of things, if I can excite and motivate students to really want to teach – and of course hopefully equip them to be good music teachers – then I feel (and hope) I’ve made a difference in their life.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

To be ready, willing and able to for anything. I was an English major for my undergraduate degree, and here I am the marching band director at a Division 1 University. A student needs to try things and then be ready for the call that may come!

OHIO

Name: Julia B. Olson

School: Federal Hocking Secondary School

City/State: Stewart, Ohio

Total Years Teaching: 4

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 40 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

My proudest moment as an educator was probably this fall at our first football game of the season. I have a small and very young band, and I was nervous about them being ready for their first high pressure performance. By the end, I had tears in my eyes because they were absolutely crushing it! I guess they thrive under pressure! They saw that I was getting a little emotional, and as a collective group of 22 people, we had one of those “teacher moments” as they came off the field. I’ll never forget it.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I want them to be proud to be in the Lancer Band, and proud of working hard to put on a great show. I want to give my kids a place to belong, and to show them that even in the middle of farm country that it’s OK to love music and to be different from the norm.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

I hope that I do a good job of teaching them to always be good humans, and to stay true to themselves as individuals. I want them to grow as musicians, but more importantly I want to make a difference by helping them evolve into strong and proud people.

OKLAHOMA

Name: Fred Queen, Director of Bands

School: Noble Public Schools

City/State: Noble, Oklahoma

Total Years Teaching: 31

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 175 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

Wow, there are many proud moments. In 2005 I received the Governor’s Arts Award for dedication to the arts education in Oklahoma. This was during a nine year stint away from teaching and working for an area music store as an educational sales representative. One of my store associates told me numerous times that I was in the wrong business and belonged back in school with kids. And so it is, I am now in my 10th year at Noble Public Schools, and I’m as happy as ever. What probably makes me the proudest is the number of student pictures displayed in my band room that continued on to participate in post high school band programs.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

As teachers we are in a very persuasive position to influence young adults that will mold our future society. Band directors are even more involved since we tend to develop relationships with students over consecutive years in the program. I have been a father figure (and now a grandfather figure) to many students over the years, approving and disapproving their prom dress and dates, their hair style, their behavior, their actions, and counseling with them about their future plans. I hope I set a proper example for them to reflect on as they move on in their lives.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

It, whatever that may be for them, can always get better. The performance, the math grade, the job, the relationship, life in general can always get better. Do something to make it happen.

OREGON

Name: Cynthia Plank

School: Beaumont Middle School

City/State: Portland, Oregon

Total Years Teaching: 15

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 220 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

My proudest moments are when I hear from past students about the ways they keep music alive either by going on to study music in college, performing professionally or with friends and family, or just reminiscing about the ways our band program inspired them in other parts of their lives. I love that band parents in our area still come to events years after their students have moved on, and share that the skills learned in our music classes helped their kids to be more successful and happy adults. It’s humbling to know that I was able contribute to the pride that parents feel because of what their students were able to accomplish in 3 short years.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

My goal is to help students see themselves as capable ready and able to learn a new skill and language, able to create art alone and within an ensemble, able to manage their time on every level and able to work with other musicians in a variety of settings, no matter where they are starting from. So much of what we do in life is enhanced by the skills we develop in the music class learning to listen to others, waiting our turn to contribute, blending ideas and balancing energy, matching intensity, being ready to take a solo or lead role when the time comes, and of course improvising when needed. Learning these skills can develop self confidence, and confidence encourages success.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

There are two really important principles that I try to impart to the students in my bands: One is that with perseverance and time management, amazing things can be accomplished. The second is that musical etiquette translates to good manners in the rest of your life – being prepared and on time, listening to others, knowing how to lead and when to follow, dressing for the gig, honoring commitments and taking good care of your equipment – these things will help you be ready to open and step through doors of opportunity that you didn’t even know existed!

PENNSYLVANIA

Name: Keith P. Gromis

School: Eastern York High School

City/State: Wrightsville, Pennsylvania

Total Years Teaching: 4

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 110 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

My proudest moments occur when students reflect on their personal growth as musicians and realize the outcome of their efforts. This could be represented by a group experience such as leaving the stage after a concert in which every student knows they worked their absolute hardest. As well as, when a student tackles a challenging passage for several days and finally realizes that their hard work paid off, and that they are able to perform the passage with ease.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

It is my greatest hope that students leave my class knowing they have the potential to do great work in the world around them. I hope they will use the broader lessons of musical performance, such as: hard work and perseverance, cooperation and unity, high achievement and excellence throughout their lives. Above all I want my student to know that I will always be there to support them.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

Teaching often times means far more than curricular goals and testable knowledge. What we as teachers pass onto our students are the tools to make good, informed decisions throughout their entire lives. We teach students to pursue their passions and become the absolute best version of themselves. We teach them that true excellence in life is achieved through hard work, commitment and cooperation. They have it within them, it just needs to be brought out.

RHODE ISLAND

Name: Toni Annette Silveira

School: North Kingstown High School

City/State: North Kingstown, Rhode Island

Total Years Teaching: 21

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 150 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

My proudest moment was attending a NYC Music Festival and winning every gold award. I never considered myself to be on that top tier, yet there we were. I was in a state of disbelief when our band was called up five times for gold trophies and two soloists were recognized with plaques. The students were beyond thrilled. They had worked hard preparing their parts and the seniors truly stepped up in their leadership roles. The students were so proud carrying those seven trophies, but they also were supportive and gracious to the other bands that came in second or third. That made the night even sweeter.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I want students to know that they matter and that they are appreciated. The third trumpet player is as important to me as the lead player. If I have 15 drummers in the concert band, then I will triple parts because I want every one included. I want their memories of band class to be positive and the band room to be their safe place. My hope is that 20 years from now, when its time for their own child to sign up for beginning band, my alumni will be excited that their kid will soon be a “band kid.”

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

I do not give empty praise or meaningless A’s. The students learn that hard work and high expectations can lead to very satisfying results. They are a good band when they play every day. They are a great band when they practice, push themselves and support each other. When you make a mistake, learn from it and move on. If our ensemble receives an average grade, then we accept responsibility and aim to do better. Most of all, there will always be somebody better than you so just be the best you can be.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Name: Roger E. Simpson, Jr.

School: Irmo High School

City/State: Columbia, SC

Total Years Teaching: 13

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 125 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

I am the proudest at the end of every school year when I have the opportunity to watch each of my students walk across the stage and pick up their diplomas. From the student who worked hard and barely passed to the student who worked hard and became valedictorian of the class, I find myself equally proud of them all. With each step I think back upon their first day of their first band camp and reflect upon how much each one has grown and matured. While there is a bit of sadness to see a member of the band family embark upon the next chapter, I am confident that they will go on to personify the positive change that we want to see in the world.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

My students come from many different situations, but the diverse population is one of the things that makes our program great. My hope for all of my students to use music as their way to overcome whatever hurdles stand in their way. In band, every student has equal opportunity through a shared responsibility to grow. As their band director, I strive to be the positive influence they might not otherwise have in their lives by setting an example that they can learn from, depend on, and in turn push to emulate.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

Every year, I encourage my students to work to their fullest potential so that there is no room left for regret. This is a concept that I hope they apply to all areas of their lives, not just music. In life, those who find themselves the most successful understand that there is simply no time to waste. My hope is that in 30 years, they will not have regrets about what they could have or should have done but will be proud of where they are and what they have accomplished.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Name: Jeff Patzlaff

School: Platte Geddes Community School

City/State: Platte, South Dakota (pop 1,300)

Total Years Teaching: 30

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 108 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

I am going to cheat and pick three! The first is at every graduation, when I see the band students that have “stuck it out” in band, walk across the stage. I am always so proud of getting a chance to work with such great students! It is also an honor to teach in a school long enough to have my student’s children in my bands now!

The second is, having our band selected to perform at our state music convention three times. It was such an awesome experience preparing the literature and then performing for our state’s music directors! Our students met that challenge each time!

Third would be having the privilege of teaching my own three children and have them come through the band program. Nothing is better than working each day with your own kids and having them develop into terrific young people!

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

As a band director in a small school, I get the privilege to watch my students “grow up” as they go from beginners in my fifth grade band, then on to sixth grade band and junior high band, and finally to finish in my high school band. I want my students to know the fundamentals of music and to be able to enjoy music for the rest of their lives. I want them to be able to appreciate the fact that hard work in practicing pays off in great music being performed! I hope that I show them my love for music and that, in working to become better musicians that they can become better people as well.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

From as early as fifth grade, I try to have each student “make music” while they play—using lots of air and always listening to themselves to make the best possible sound on their instrument! I really work to have each student be the best player that they can be. There is a place for everyone in our band! I try to tell my students before every concert that the music should “move them”. They should feel something from their music. Whether it be joy, sadness, anticipation, relief It should create a memory for themselves. If they can do that, the audience will get a great musical experience as well!

TENNESSEE

Name: Adam Huff

School: Lenoir City Schools

City/State: Lenoir City, Tennessee

Total Years Teaching: 13

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 150 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

My proudest moment each year comes when the band seniors give their “senior speeches.” The speeches are usually filled with memories from their time in band and I never know what they are going to say. Some make me laugh as they tell funny stories that I have long since forgotten about.

Others make me cry as they tell how their time in band has changed their lives. Regardless of whether they make me laugh or cry, I always find myself sitting there humbled by how much of a difference I was able to make in my students lives. Hearing these speeches makes me proud to be a band director and reminds me that success is not determined by trophies and awards, but in the lifelong impact made on students.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

Experience tells us that while students enjoy playing in high school band they are not likely to play their instrument more than few years after high school. Knowing that, I hope to be able to make a difference in my student’s lives by teaching them not only about music, but also about how to succeed in life. If I can help my students develop responsibility, leadership, character, integrity, and a good work ethic than I know they will be successful in much more than just music.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

I try to teach my students to never give up or take the easy way out; to never stop learning and improving; that hard work pays off because success never comes easy; to make good choices and be responsible for your actions; and that you will never be wrong for doing what is right.

TEXAS

Name: Stephen Cox

School: Eastland High School / Middle School

City State: Eastland, Texas

Total Years Teaching: 7

Number of Students in Instrumental Music Program: 267 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

I think my proudest moments are when I see a student achieve something they were not sure they could achieve. This might be a beginner at their first concert, or when a high school band freshman marches their first halftime show. When a student’s hard work and patience pay off with noticeable improvement, it’s really fantastic. You can tell that these experiences change the way they think about their potential. Learning to play an instrument is really a great way for students to discover that hard work leads to success. So many people believe that music is a “natural” talent. When students find out it’s a skill you develop, it changes the way they think about all skills.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I would hope that I can help students learn to put others before themselves. As a band, we only succeed if everyone succeeds. If students can learn to both do their part and help others do their part as well, there are no limits. Students that only invest in themselves often find a limit in their motivation as they are only feeding off their own energy. When students help others they invest in the value the team produces as a whole and find satisfaction in both their success and in the success of their peers. Teamwork, maturity, and respect make students excellent musicians and even better people.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

At Eastland we have adopted the Air Force Core Values: Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do. This sums up everything I want the students to become. If the students can approach everything they do in life with these ideals in mind they can change the world. 

UTAH

Name: Christine Wolf

School: Central Davis Jr High

City/State: Layton, Utah

Total Years Teaching: 13

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 220 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

I am probably not alone, but the beginning of every school year can feel like the movie Groundhog Day. Starting over with each group can be overwhelming when I think of where we just ended the previous year. Despite this, my proudest moments happen day-by-day as my students develop and grow: a beginning trombone player being thrilled that they can finally change partials after struggling through that concept, a clarinetist who can finally go over the break. The list goes on and on.... I burst with pride when my symphonic band performs holiday assemblies for our feeder elementary schools and I see even younger students who can hardly contain themselves because they are so excited to hear live music. Knowing that my students are bringing that opportunity and joy to others is a powerful experience. My emotions tend to run very high through festival season until the finale concert each year. My pride grows when I realize what these students have pushed through and achieved during the year. But it is the day-to-day “aha” moments are what are most powerful and bring me the most pride.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I hope to teach my students that music is a vehicle to take you down the road of your choice. The grit, determination, hard work, and the sacrifices involved in being a member of a band also gives opportunity for the development of a creative and sensitive soul that will serve them in any role or job that they choose. I hope they will love the arts and support them with the same passion that they have exhibited while they were the ones on the stage.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

Each student’s personal integrity is what is valued above all. If my students commit to a challenge, they will have the personal integrity to do what is needed to accomplish the task. I want them to be honest in all things and lift others to be the same. When our life is full of people who have integrity, we are able to exceed expectations. Everyone has a part to do, a role to play and doing the right thing even when no one is watching, will set them apart from the rest of the world. And of course, to love making music!

VERMONT

Name: William D. Prue

School: North Country Union High School City/State: Newport, Vermont

Total Years Teaching: 18

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 68 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

I’m proud of student involvement in my groups such as a new marching band and jazz band at the elementary school level, 50 percent increase in the high school band participation, and All State festival participation increasing every year. I’m also proud of those big moments at special concerts when we travel or when we involve bagpipes, kazoos or electric guitars. But it’s really the little things that make me most proud, like the inspired but quiet student who was the sole clarinetist in a pit band or the athlete who sticks with band despite a difficult schedule.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

One way I hope to make a difference in my students’ lives is by showing them that music can be a part of their lives after high school even if they are not going into a music career. I encourage students to enjoy music by playing in a community band, practice with play along tracks after work, recognize quality music during a commute, or play guitar on the front porch.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

The most important message I try to teach my students is that they CAN do it. When they started their instruments they could barely get a sound, but now they’re playing real music. They CAN play their scales. They CAN hit high C. They CAN improvise. They CAN do anything if they put their minds to it and PRACTICE!

VIRGINIA

Name: Tiffany Hitz

School: Rachel Carson Middle School

City/State: Herndon, Virginia

Total Years Teaching: 19

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 276 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

My proudest moments are when I see evidence that my students don’t really need me. As band directors, we want our students to know where to go to learn a new fingering, how to figure out the counting of a difficult rhythm, how to independently match tone, articulations, phrase shapes and balance within the ensemble, and collaboratively make decisions about these things while operating in a chamber ensemble. We want our students to be able to set their own goals – both big and small – and take steady steps to reach those goals, and we want them to be able to reflect on their progress and work through difficulties without giving up. When I see my students take responsibility for their own musical experience and learning, I know I am helping to create life long, literate musicians. Even more, I take pride in knowing they will carry skills of being independent thinkers who take initiative and problem solve over to other areas in their lives, and am proud to know this will help them to become more successful people.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

By focusing on creating a classroom atmosphere that fosters relationships and is a safe space for students to be vulnerable and take chances, I establish an environment where risk taking is encouraged and mistakes are accepted as part of the learning process. I hope this helps my students find a voice and an outlet through music making, and inspires them to connect with the emotions and experiences that are a part of life. I strive to help them develop a reliance on and responsibility to each other in their ensembles, and to know that each one of them is critical to the success of the whole. I want my students to feel that I genuinely care for each of them as people and musicians, and hope that together these things empower each student and help them believe in themselves and love learning.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

The most important lesson I teach my students is that failure is an integral part of the learning process. Too many students I’ve encountered let a fear of being less than perfect impede their risk taking and progress. When students are afraid to fail, they often aren’t willing to try or they will put in minimal effort in order to have an excuse when they don’t reach their fullest potential. So many miss the simple fact that sometimes success is found in simply making an effort. I am purposeful in encouraging a growth mindset in my students and focus on the process of learning so they can overcome difficulties, learn from their mistakes, ask for and accept help, and grow through determination and tenacity.

WASHINGTON

Name: Brenda Ehrhardt

School: Sunnyside Elementary School

City/State: Marysville, Washington

Total Years Teaching: 31

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: I teach music to 530 students. I have 102 in my choir and 29 in my orff ensemble.

(Editor’s Note: Ms. Ehrhardt is a former marching band director, nominated by former students) What is your proudest moment as an educator?

My proudest moments as an educator are to see my students continue to love and appreciate music after they have left my school. I am so proud to see them perform in orchestras, bands and choirs but to also see them perform in piano and dance recitals. Not only is the performance aspect important but I also love to hear that they have attended a symphony concert or some form of musical theatre. I am proud that what I have taught them about music stays with them.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

It is my hope that every student I teach realizes that they can sing, dance, play instruments and compose. I hope they feel pride in themselves with each musical experience and that this pride spills over to every aspect of their life.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

I want every child to know that music crosses all boundaries. No matter where we come from it has the power to reach us in unique ways. My job is to expose my students to many different forms of music so they can explore how it relates to their experiences and the experiences of others. I want them to find the joy that comes from working hard and participating in a successful performance. I want them to realize that music is a gift.

WEST VIRGINIA

Name: J. Craig Lee

School: Wildwood Middle School

City/State: Shenandoah Junction, West Virginia Total Years Teaching: 27

What is your proudest moment as an educator?

My proudest moments as an educator come when students continue to study music and become music educators themselves. I have been fortunate to have influenced several of our local area music teachers as well as my son who all graduated from my program.I feel good knowing that I helped instill a love of music that inspired someone to teach.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I hope to make a difference in my student’s lives by helping them learn to work hard and excel at something they love to do. Life isn’t always about grades or money. It can be about doing something beautiful and fun. I hope they learn that they can achieve great things together and support one another.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

The most important lesson that I try to teach my students is that you have to work hard in life to achieve your goals. Don’t depend on someone else to do it for you. Do your part, and the rest should fall into place.

WISCONSIN

Name: Michael R. Krofta

School: Oconomowoc High School

City/State: Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 210 (Band/Orchestra), 310 (Choir, Band, Orchestra)

What is your proudest moment as an educator?

For the last 26 years I have had the wonderful opportunity to work in an outstanding community and school system that has a great tradition of supporting music and the arts. My proudest moments are when former students or family members tell me what a positive impact I have had on their children. I try to instill a sense of pride, tradition and excellence in their lives through the joy and rigor of being a member of the Oconomowoc band program. I am so proud when they tell me that through these musical experiences, I have had a positive influence in their lives. To me, it doesn’t get any better than that!

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I hope to make a difference in each of my student’s lives by instilling a love of music, a love of learning, an inquiring mind as well as teaching students to be responsible, compassionate and hard working young adults. Our goal in the Oconomowoc band program is to work hard in order to achieve the highest musical standards, as well as treat others with mutual respect, teach responsibility and take pride in everything they do. It is my hope that teaching students to strive for excellence is its own reward and one that will help them throughout their life, no matter what occupation they pursue.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

The Oconomowoc band program not only teaches musical concepts, but also many life lessons. The most important lesson I want my students to learn is persistence – the strength and ability to keep going, to keep working hard and never give up. In band rehearsals we do have many moments of “let’s do this one more time” until we perfect a particular section in our music. In life, by working hard, and being persistent I believe anything is possible. I want my students to (1) believe in themselves, (2) always give their best and (3) not settle for anything less. I hope that being a member of the Oconomowoc band program not only fosters musical development and artistic expression, but also teaches that there is no substitute for hard work and persistence.

WYOMING

Name: Dr. Joseph Falvey

School: University of Wyoming

City/State: Laramie, Wyoming

Total Years Teaching: 6

Number of Students in Instrumental/Music Program: 200 What is your proudest moment as an educator?

It is impossible to narrow this down to one moment, as this career consists of so many small achievements. As a band director and an applied horn teacher, I work with my students in a variety of settings. Helping them improve as an ensemble and grow as individuals is why I teach, not for any personal accolades.

How do you hope to make a difference in your student’s lives?

I hope that I am able to push my students to move out of their comfort zones to seek out new and exciting experiences. This has included encouraging students to attend summer music festivals in the U.S., England, Italy and the Czech Republic. I hope that I have inspired them to aim high and to not accept mediocrity in anything they do.

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

The most important lesson I try and teach my students is that there is no substitute for hard work and dedication. Students will have various levels of natural talent and ability, but they can make the choice to always give 100 percent effort in every rehearsal and lesson. This applies beyond music and they can carry this into their lives regardless of their chosen profession.



Directors who make a Difference

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