Most people may have written this type of “article” on the first-of-the-month or a Sunday night / Monday morning, but a Tuesday? I had a free Tuesday, so I thought – what the heck? My readers in Accident, Maryland; Embarrass, Minnesota; Two Egg, Florida; and, Waterproof, Louisiana needed an “article.”
So, what are you thinking, Paul? Well, I am glad you asked. I am thinking: YEAR TWENTY-NINE IS GOING TO BEGIN ON MONDAY, July 31, 2017 at my new job / my sixth high school. I won’t mention the high school’s name because, my writing does not represent that school and frankly, I will do what I can not to get into more trouble than I will (smile). Wow! Year twenty-nine! At my sixth high school.
What’s on my mind? The new high school will be one of the toughest challenges I face. What are the challenges?
- I will be the third band director in three years. Can you imagine what that is like for high school students? So, the seniors, in their four years, will have the third way of how to be a high school band introduced to them. The Juniors? Three band directors in three years? Same can be said with the Sophomores and of course the Freshmen … the Freshmen expect to have a new teacher; therefore, shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system. I hope the Freshmen want to know that I am going to do all I can to be there for them the entire four years.
- A high school band program that has a middle school program that has had a tough go of it for the last several years – paralleling the high school in the sense of the revolving door. I could give you more details regarding the “challenges” that school’s band program has experienced, but let me just say, all the changes that middle school band program has experienced has “hurt” the high school program. It will be the first school of the SIX I have taught at that has a middle school program that has had such issues. My job he job prior to this one, there were 112 eighth graders. This middle school situation? Possibly no more than 40 with 30 joining.
- Finances. Oh, my goodness. My prior job, I left with over $100,000 in the boosters’ budget (too much for a NON-PROFIT; but it is there). The new high school I am at had unpaid bills of considerable amounts. WE are hurting for money. We have a 49 musicians in the marching band with around $20,000 of expenditures to make it through the season? Wooo Weeee!!
- The number of students in the band… There are eighty-two students in the band program. FANTASTIC! Right? 82 students and there are 1,900 students in the school… (we need to get more students involved, but 82 is a great start). Yet, out of the 82 students signed-up for a band class – 49 students signed-up for MARCHING BAND. 49?? One tuba player. Three trumpet players. EIGHTEEN PERCUSSIONISTS!! I think you get the picture. 27 students of the 82 students chose to be in JUST “symphonic band.” Gosh! WE COULD HAVE HAD 73 STUDENTS IN MARCHING BAND?! Darn it! And then, there are FIFTEEN students in jazz band with TWO only being jazz band (no symphonic band or jazz band)?!? So, I have inherited a program where the students are not thinking about how to make the band bigger / better. It’s about what works for them. I GET IT.
- A new choir director. I have no idea of this person. She seems to be very nice. She is succeeding a choir teacher I had worked with when she was the middle school band director. OH, MY HEAVENS. She is a great teacher! But, I so respect her decision to be a wife / mother and leave her teaching behind. SHE IS WONDERFUL. Again, though, to have a brand-new teacher … literally, a brand-new teacher will bring that dynamic to the department. I do look forward to giving her (the new teacher) all the support I can and support that is “welcomed.”
So, that is about it (GIGGLE – GIGGLE). As I go onto the world of “PERFECT” (otherwise known as FACEBOOK), I take a breath of “covet” or “envy” or “jealousy” for those who, “I look forward to starting my fifteenth year at JON DOE HIGH SCHOOL.” Or, “I had a such a great time with my group in “Perfectatamia, Europe. They played so well.” I think, “Paul, why the heck did you take this job? You are FIFTY-ONE. You had an award-winning band. A band that had its own, “Look at me” experiences. You gave that up for a band that is in need? You have five years until retirement!” THAT IS WHO I AM!! And my “dirty-inhale” turns into an exhale of DO WHAT YOU DO BEST and love your students. Empathy for their parents / legal guardians.
I want to be with folks who want what others have. I love the challenge to give them what others have. With that being said, I do look at what “we” are going to take on and say, “Dear Lord, please help me, help them. Please give me all I need to give them all they need. Dear Lord, this is YOUR will. I do this job in honor of YOU!”
So, bottom line … what am I thinking? ANSWER: For what could be the final school I teach at, I will need GOD more than ever. I am older. I have been hurt. Recently, talking to one of the band directors who worked at this school, I shared with him the hurt I have experienced my twelve years away from the district I am returning to and he REMINDED ME, “Wow, Paul. You got some ‘stories’ to share. I don’t have anything like that!” I do…and when I am through with this school, I will have more stories to share. That is what gets me going. I look forward to making memories and music and adding those (memories / making music) to my life and those who choose to be with me. I look forward to seeing a program blossom due to their work and belief in themselves and little belief in me.
To all my colleagues who are starting new jobs: ENJOY! Those folks are looking for stability. They are looking for the opportunity for a new beginning. They have hope. Give them all you can to make their time in a high school ensemble positively memorable. LOVE THEM!!
To all my colleagues starting year five or year ten or year twenty-five at the same school: BRAVO! Enjoy continuing growing your legacy at that school. You have accomplished something I chose not to and I am impressed.
To my wife, daughter, son and beautiful daughter-in-law: I am so grateful for all you have done for me. The patience and forgiveness you show me … daily. The unconditional love you show me. The “deaf-ears” you have when you hear such negative things said about me. You are amazing people.
Enjoy your final Tuesday of Summer.