Reflective 30th Anniversary

My heart is heavy.  I don’t know why?  I am going to guess… My heart is heavy because I realize I do not have 30 years left to teach high school music.  My time is coming to end. 

I will change the names of the schools.  Don’t want to hurt anyone.  However, in the end, you and I choose to allow people’s words / actions to hurt us.  Yes.  You physically hit me.  Throw something at me.  That will hurt.  You spew words and lies … than, it is my choice to be hurt or stay hurt. 

On July 3, 1989, I started teaching high school music.  My first job was at Riesling High School in Lodi, CA.  Riesling High School was also where I student taught.  In my book CONDUCTING MY LIFE, I give a wonderful story about my experience about teaching at Riesling High School.  I highly recommend that book.  You will read about a student who started as a freshman telling me “FUCK OFF” and his dad coming in drunk, during the school day, threatening me.  Read the book and you will see how that relationship grew and still stays strong today.  

In my book CONDUCTING MY LIFE, you will read about a FAT DAD who at 2:30 IN THE MORNING, following our return from the Portland Rose Festival to Riesling High School was looking for “Fucking Mr. Everts.”  He was mad at me because I insisted his daughter ride the bus home from Portland Rose Festival.  By the way, at the age of 28 years-old, the students won “BEST OUT OF STATE” for the Portland Rose Festival Parade.  Pretty damn good for a 28 year-old teacher! 

I really appreciate the years at Riesling High School.  I was able to learn so much.  I had the “Old Guard” of band directors take the “promising Mr. Everts” under their wings.  During that time (1989-1994), I was able to get the band to grow from around 55 students to over 120!  I also married a beautiful lady, Diana, (still married to her today) and we had our first child, April 18, 1994 … Paul Joseph (PJ) Everts. 

Great time in my career.  Lots of good times… I will share one of several positive moments.  I strongly believe in giving students “human moments.”  The “human moment” for the band was our time at the Alan Short Center.  The Alan Short Center is a center for disabled folks.  I was contacted by the Alan Short Center to have the band come and give the “clients” a parade around the facility’s grounds.  NO PROBLEM! 

We get to the center.  I have the students get in their marching band uniforms.  We took this request very seriously.  Treated it just like a competition.  Warmed-up.  Rehearsed starting the parade of clients.

Students did a great job!

Following their performance, the students get out of their uniforms and get into their band t-shirts / more comfortable clothes.  The students are then assigned to assist the clients.  They played games with the clients.  Again, the folks were disabled – physically / emotionally / mentally; some more severe than others. 

Watching my students play “child” games with them.  Feed them their lunch.  Wow!  What moments. 

“Mr. Everts,” an excited / winded Riesling High School Band member says to me.

“Yes?”

“Is it okay if we play tug-O-war with the other band?”  The student was super excited!  Now, you need to know a little about the where the other band is from:  THE JUVENILE DETENTION CENTER in Stockton, California.  Very tough group.

“Um… Sure!  Just please be careful.”

So, I am watching a group of about 20-24 Riesling High School band members.  The other band had about 12 members.  I let you come up with an image of high school band members in 1992-ish.  And again on the other side of this very thick rope?  About a 12 or so kids form the JUVENILE DETENTION CENTER.

One. Two. Three… THEY ALL PULL!  Needless to say, numbers win. 

Now, the JUVENILE DETENTION CENTER “MEMBERS” are more determined to win!  Again, they had around 12 going against 22-24!  I see my students huddle and come up with the plan for round two.  One of the students comes running up to me and tells me the plan…. I take a HUGE breath!! 

One. Two. Three…. THEY ALL PULL! And my students all of the sudden… DROP THE ROPE causing the JUVENLIE DETENTION CENTER “MEMBERS” to all fall backwards and on themselves.  I GULPED. And sure enough… they all laughed, and the competitors gave hugs / handshakes / high fives.

Great times! 

We go back to the high school.  In our band room.  I see some exhausted teenagers.

“Well, what did you learn?”

My goodness… tears start flowing.  They share these humbling stories.

“Mr. Everts… can we get out our instruments and play the field show much before the bell rings?” 

“Aren’t y’all tired?”

“Yeah. But, we can do it.  What we saw those kids at the center go through?  We can do it.”

They played their field show music.  And then more tears and quiet.  GREAT MEMORY!! 

Then, it was onto THE BAY AREA PRIVATE SCHOOL (not real name).  Again, many wonderful stories from being there from 1994-1997.  The big thing in my life / our lives was the birth of Katy Everts, May 24, 1996 at Community Hospital!  One of the best hospitals in California.

In my book CONDUCTING MY LIFE, there are stories about THE BAY AREA PRIVATE SCHOOL.  Let me just say this… if a student / family choose to go to a “Christian” School, be ready to hear the name, “Jesus Christ.”  With love in heart / concern for my well-being, I was advised to not say, “Jesus Christ” when giving the Benediction.  I felt like it was a scene form DEAD POETS SOCIETY with me being played by my one of my favorite actors, Robin Williams.  By saying “Jesus Christ,” I may hurt someone’s feelings / offend someone.  Well, that did not sit well with me.  Might as well go back to the public school.  I realize that Jesus Christ isn’t welcomed on the public school campus (EVEN MORE SO NOW – 2019). I did love being back at home.  Who wouldn’t?  If your childhood home is the Monterey Peninsula. 

Now, onto eight of the most special years:  STONE LAKE HIGH SCHOOL (not the real name of school)!  I would be reconnected with the Riesling High School Drama Teacher, Richard.  Richard was one of my groomsmen.  I will always be grateful for him calling me at THE BAY AREA PRIVATE SCHOOL.

Stone Lake High School was BRAND NEW!  Opening a brand-new high school is a thrill.  SO MUCH HOPE.  So much optimism.  LOVED IT.  Glad I did it.  So, I will give you one of the stories from that school.  Again, you can read more in CONDUCTING MY LIFE! 

First Monday night rehearsal of 2007 field show season.  The rehearsal is over.

“Hey, IT’S 9 O’CLOCK!!”  Some lady yelling from the bleachers in the stadium.  She walks down the steps of the stadium.  “IT’S NINE O’CLOCK.” 

Now, this strange mom is on the football field / in my face.  In front of the students.  In front of my assistants / staff.  I am speechless.  Then, it was my turn!  We go at it.  Then, my friend (Jeff) puts his arm around, “I think we’re done.  You (strange mom) need to go home.” 

Next day… “Mr. Student Teacher.  Go out to the stadium and warm-up the band.” 

I walk out to the stadium. 

“Hey, you’re late.”  DAMN IT.  IT’S THE SAME STRANGE MOM.  Now, of course, we know her name:  MS. GRAIN (again, changed her crazy name). 

“Mrs. Grain.  You don’t have permission to be here.  If you stay and keep it up, I will call the police.” 

More details in book…

Some time in OCTOBER, we have a Friday night Rehearsal.  At the end of the rehearsal, 10:00pm… a couple of seniors come into my office holding a piece of blue paper.  “What is this shirt, Mr. Everts?”

I take it from them:  FIRST MR. EVERTS.  IF YOU WANT TO HELP GET MR. EVERTS FIRED PHONE 555-1212.

We are all shocked! 

It’s now around 10:30pm Friday night.  I phone the principal.  A few expletives from the principal in regard to what Mrs. Grain did TO THE STUDENTS. 

Again, I will save the details for YOU TO READ MY BOOK.  Let me just say, the principal shows up to the rehearsal the following morning.  You should read what he said and then how he handles Mrs. Grain.  PRICELESS!  

One of my very favorite principals in the THIRTY-YEAR CAREER!  When I resigned, he and I cried and unfortunately, we rarely communicated following my resignation.  I do understand.  He was probably upset I would leave considering all he did for me for those EIGHT YEARS (1997-2005). 

We then go to LITTLETOWN HIGH SCHOOL (2005-2008).  Three of the most challenging years of my career.  Let me just say:  if a student did not wear a red football helmet and / or an FFA blue corduroy jacket, you were “just-another-kid.” 

Without giving too many details because …. Yes… it is in the wonderful book:  CONDUCTING MY LIFE.  The third year, I was placed on PAID ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE.  Read the book.  Following FIVE WEEKS of being on PAID ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE, the school board voted FIVE – ZERO in my favor to return to the classroom. 

The story from this school will be how it ended.  Following the FIVE WEEKS of PAID ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE, there was tension.  No doubt.  But, I did nothing wrong.  Also, context is important.  NOT ONE PARENT – TEACHER CONFERENCE ABOUT ANY OF THE ALLEGATIONS that led to my PAID ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE!  Not ONE parent meeting. 

I am convinced it was a witch hunt. 

A group of students and their parents did not like me.  Again, READ THE BOOK. 

The week of May 5, 2008, I was told students were ratcheting up their attempt to get me fired or for me to resign.  Trust me.  Littletown High School was not worth all the pain.  I was, if I remember, the sixteenth music teacher in 23 years.  Diana (an alumnus of Littletown HS) had FIVE HIGH SCHOOL BAND DIRECTORS IN FOUR YEARS!  I thought I could be the one to bring the band back to life. 

Week of May 5, 2008, I decide to resign.  They win. 

Well, one of my supporters (BAND DAD) gets PISSED-OFF! 

Phones the superintendent (ONE HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT AND IT HAD A SUPERINTENDENT – sure… nothing is wrong with public education… SIGH).

Superintendent and the PISSED-OFF parent meet me in my office.  Let’s say Tuesday May 13.  Superintendent informs me he will “personally” take on this latest WITCH HUNT. 

On Saturday, May 17, 2008, at Sacramento State, I was at my final class for my Administrator Credential at .  I get a phone call and it was the superintendent.

“Paul… we have come to the conclusion that the student is lying.  We have told her if she continues down this path, we will recommend a lawsuit of defamation of character.  Will you come back?”

“Thank you, but no.  How can I trust you?  Or anybody?” 

He gets frustrated, “I understand.”

On Sunday, May 18, 2008, get ready for church.  We look at our grass.  IT’S DEAD.  Looked at our window and there is some sort of liquid dried on the window that possibly killed our lawn / flowers. 

On Monday morning , May 19, 2008, I go to my car.  Parked in my driveway.  Getting ready to drive to Littletown High School,  I see glass on the ground.  Sure enough.  My back window of my car was shot out.  I WAS DONE.  I resigned that day to never go back to Littletown High School. 

One of the WORST experiences… so I thought… until Killarney High School, Tuesday, September 24, 2013 through December 3, 2013…

Until those TEN WEEKS, many great things happened at Killarney High School.  Both our children (PJ & Katy) graduated from Killarney High School!  They had some wonderful friends.  Good times.  We performed at Carnegie Hall (2012) and Chicago Symphony Hall (2014). 

From Fall of 2008 – Spring 2017, our band went from 50 students to well over 120 students.

From 2008-12, we went from one full-time music teacher (me) to TWO FULL-TIME MUSIC TEACHERS, my final four years at Killarney High School.  We added a string orchestra.

Just a lot of great things accomplished at Killarney High School.  Some of my favorite parents are from those NINE YEARS.  Still are in contact with many of them!

So, there isn’t much about KILLARNEY HIGH SCHOOL in CONDUCTING MY LIFE.  Will be in BOOK TWO.  Trust me.  You want hear about being accused of a racist bully.  You want to hear about a mom who confronted me in front of the students in the press box on a Saturday rehearsal.  Oh, there are some good moments, as well… Like Robbie – autistic student who was drum major for a day! 

What happened at Littletown High School followed me to Killarney High School.  I would later find out that a Littletown High School parent phoned my principal my first year at Killarney High School and told her some awful lies.  Probably should have sued her.  DIDN’T. 

My Killarney High School principal and I had a “love / hate” relationship.  However, I am so grateful for her standing by me.  She could have figured out a way to get me gone, but she didn’t.

I am not going to give you the details about the September 24, 2013 – December 3, 2013 PAID ADMINISRATIVE LEAVE.  What I will say, is the student who made the allegation did go to the administration on / or around Thursday, October 3, 2013, and told the administration that the administration took what she said wrong and wanted me back in the classroom.

Well, by then… it was too late.  The procedure was on its way…

So, I do get back in the classroom. 

Oh, one important fact.  If I was so egregious to the student, then why did the student’s brother sign-up for band the FOLLOWING YEAR?  If I was so egregious wouldn’t you think the parents would want nothing to do with me?  No.  There was an attempt to get me fired or me to resign. 

April 2014 – 10 weeks following the 10 weeks off – GOLD AWARD AT A BAND FESTIVAL IN CHICAGO!! 

January 2016 – STRAIGHT “ONES” at the FOLSOM JAZZ FESTIVAL … a first for the KILLARNEY HIGH SCHOOL JAZZ BAND! 

March 2016 – BEST PARADE BAND at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in our sister city: BRAY, IRELAND.  Yes!  Bray, Ireland.

November 12, 2017, Napa, CA  – Killarney High School Band’s first SWEEPSTAKES award in DECADES!! 

November 19, 2017, Fairifeld, CA  – A horrific… HORRIFIC altercation with a band mom.  Had my daughter in tears.  Yelled at my wife in front of Killarney High School Band Parents.  Starts telling people in the Fairfield High School parking lot, “I want to get Mr. Everts fired.  Anyone (parents) ready to help me?”  YIKES.  Such a hurting soul.  To yell at my wife.  Cause my daughter to cry?  SCREW IT.  Sick.  Simply sick.  Will be more in a future book.  (if there is a future book)

The breaking point for me wasn’t the mean / hurting mom yelling at me.  Damn… HAD ENOUGH OF THAT CRAP OVER THE YEARS.  Immune to that treatment … especially from her!  The “sick” band parent who for nine years attempted to get me fired with slanderous lies… SICK MAN!  Real serious issues.  Pray for him to get help.  No.  It was Wednesday, October 5, 2017 when the NEW KILLARNEY HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL (former Assistant Principal) informed me that I was not allowed to use Dr. John C. Maxwell’s material for leadership training… WITHOUT EVER ATTENDING ONE OF MY LEADERSHIP MEETINGS AND FRANKLY… without reading any of his books.  I will be ever grateful for Mark Cole – CEO OF JOHN MAXWELL CORPORATION for writing a two-page letter in support of me using Dr. Maxwell’s material. 

On October 5, 2017, I knew I would be leaving because I wasn’t going to work with / for a principal who was going to make such a “critical” decision without attending a meeting or reading a book.  That process in making such a decision was a process that would be terrible for me!  I need someone who cares enough about me to learn about me.  She did not. 

I am now at Pinecrest High School which is in the same district as Stone Lake High School.  I am not going to share any stories about Pinecrest High School because I want to respect my job / my principal.  Yes.  “STUFF” has happened.  No doubt.  But, I do have students who read my blog and listen to my podcast! 

Yes.  I have been hurt by students.  Yes.  I have had accusations / allegations made against me that have had… YEP… NOT ONE FACE-TO-FACE PARENT CONFERENCE in regard to those FALSE accusations / allegations.  Sigh… So much drama with “today’s” parents. 

Advice for you:  Learn to meet with the teacher.  Learn that many teachers want the best for your child. 

So, YOU ARE STILL READING THIS?  REALLY?  That is wonderful of you!  THANK YOU.

So, what have you (Paul) have learned in thirty years of teach high school music?

Going to be honest with you…

We (USA) are in trouble!  Sorry.  We are. 

I know many teachers will say, “The children / students haven’t changed.  The parents have changed.  The administration has changed.” 

BULL CRAP!! 

How can “you” say the children / students haven’t changed, while saying, the parents have changed?  Think about that logic!  The children are influenced by their parents – lack of their parents’ direction or too much damn direction from their parents. 

How can “you” say the children / students haven’t changed, when there are these “evil” “dumb-phones?”

Of course, the children / students have changed!  Our parents / adults are going through major changes themselves.  As they go through these “major” changes, their children are with them. 

More and more parenting skills include making “deals” with their children.  Well, if you darling, would simply eat your peas, then you would get __________.

I am just a high school band director… but I have a 28 year-long marriage; two adult children with college degrees from the University of Idaho; a BEAUTIFUL daughter-in-law (graduate with honors form University of Idaho (SHE EARNED HER DEGREE IN THREE YEARS…BTW) who is doing (along with PJ) a great job raising their son / our grandson Jason Paul (JP)… much more success than many other 53 year-old teachers… too many parents are friends with their children and attempt to make them happy. 

Again, I need to be respectful (careful) because I have current students who read this blog.  I do think there are behavior issues with our students (their children) because parents are TIRED.  They feel beaten.  They are spending more time with their children than previous generations.  However, the time they are spending together isn’t on a farm taking care of crops or livestock.  No.  It’s a different time.  Urbanization is hurting our culture. 

Students in 1989 wanted to be treated like adults and behaved like adults.  In 2019, students enjoy being children.  No. They do! 

From my students in 1990, I have a letter signed by many of the band members informing me they wanted 24-year-old “Mr. Everts” to be their teacher, not their friend. 

The difference today?  Number one:  THE LETTER WOULD BE ANONYMOUS.  Number two:  the students want the teacher to be their friend, not “just” their teacher.

I say to my students, “You don’t want a 53-year-old GRANDFATHER to be your “FRIEND.” 

So, my time is coming to an end. 

I don’t believe teachers should be students’ friends.

I don’t believe that students should be able to RUN to the WELLNESS CENTER as their first action from being triggered.  Had student come up to me, “Mr. Everts… I need to go to the Wellness Center because FEMALE STUDENT is saying crap about me and it is triggering me.” 

“Did you talk to FEMALE STUDENT?”

“No.”

“Well, until you talk to FEMALE STUDENT, I am not going to release you from class.  You can sit in my office. Breathe.  Get over it.”

Sure enough.  The next day… LITTERALLY THE NEXT DAY… there are the two of them talking to one another.  But, my goodness… I might have gotten in trouble for not allowing her to go to the Wellness Center.  Not cool.  Don’t like that feeling of “second guessing.”  I know what I am doing. 

Just like police are more so than ever second guessing before taking action, I am second guessing myself all the time because in today’s world a Caucasian, heterosexual, male, happily married to a woman, father of two, MODERATE (more libertarian; tend to NOT WANT TO LIVE IN A THEOCRACY; while at the same time, I do see ‘sin’ all over the place; let GOD judge you), Christian is not the “ideal” role model.  We used to be, but TIMES HAVE CHANGED. 

I will close with this – just some highlights 

  • 1994 Portland Rose Festival Out of State Champion for Parade
  • Conducted FOUR middle school honor bands
  • 2001 first sweepstakes (of several more to come) for Stone Lake High School
  • 2012 – Carnegie Hall  (Silver Award)
  • 2014 – Chicago Symphony Hall (Gold Award)
  • 2016 – St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Bray, Ireland – BEST BAND
  • 2016 – STRAIGHT “ONES” FOR FOLSOM JAZZ FESTIVAL;  First time in Killarney Jazz Band history
  • 2016 – Sweepstakes Trophy (Napa Band Review) … First time in Decades
  • 2017 – Pinecrest High School earns first place in their division (Merced Band Review); a band that finished last place in EVERY COMPETITION in 2016; WORST TO FIRST!  Great moment for them
  • Since the Passing of Wendy / Pam in or around 2001 – have sponsored a benefit concert for A.L.S. / CANCER SOCIETY.. probably raised close to $30,000!
  • This year sponsored concert for THE GATHERING INN. Collected many needed items. Performed three times at THE GATHERING INN. Raised $1,200 for them at the May 2019 jazz band concert!!!

I LOVE MY JOB.  I LOVE MY STUDENTS.  It depresses me that FEW PEOPLE see me as anything but a passionate man who truly loves his students.  Seriously.  I tell my students all the time, “I love you.” I have students from Riesling High School – 28 years later tell me how much it meant to them that I would say, “I love you.”  Not enough.  My “love” is not the 2019 “love.”  My love is WHAT I DO IS FOR YOU not to you!  Today’s student wants the teachers / adults on campus to take care of them, oppose to caring about them.

I am feeling the “death by a thousand cuts” is getting close.  I am probably at 993 cuts. 

What I will advise the future teachers… are you the teacher you would want your child to have?  Stand-up for yourself.  Discipline with her heart (LOVE).  Explain to your students why you do discipline them. 

I wish you (new teachers / young teachers) all the very best.  Teaching is a rewarding job and, more so now than ever, a job that can really hurt your soul / spirit!  Teaching can “break” you!   

I love my students.  I forgive them and their parents for all the hurt they have done to me and unfortunately … will do to me.  We ain’t down, yet. Have at least two years left… hopefully more good than “evil” will happen!   

I love Jesus Christ and appreciate His sacrifice and how His sacrifice has taught me to be strong though the pain of being a teacher.  Jesus Christ is THE ultimate Teacher. 

I love you Diana.  I love you PJ.  I love you Katy.  I love you Ashlee.  I love you JP.  You are incredibly important to me.  I can not give you enough thanks for all the support / patience / unconditional love.

Many Blessings,
Paul (aka “Mr. Everts”)

4 Comments

  1. Austin

    Reply

    THANK YOU Mr Everts! Mad love and respect from this guy sir! You are who you are today for a purpose-MARCH ON BROTHER! A privilege for me along with some others, to have been there in the very beginning, THANK YOU Diane for also being there. Can’t be said enough…THANK YOU, THANK YOU! ????

    • Paul Everts

      Reply

      Hello to my first ever drum major:
      Another teary-eyed moment for your teacher. I cannot thank you enough for this very kind and NEEDED message.
      With all the changes since 1989, I need to be reminded “Hang in there brother. Be who you are.” July 9, 2019, I got a phone call from Scott O’Hara (Pat O’Hara’s Brother). We talked damn near an HOUR!! Wasn’t the first time. I am grateful for all the phone calls he and I have shared.

      I share this because every time we talk, I am reminded of what a blessing it is to be a teacher… and also the blessing it is to be a teacher.

      Any time a former student, such as you….. a student who was there during my student teaching experience and my first year teaching ….. shares with me a message of “love,” I literally get a breath of air to make it to the next day / week / month / year of teaching.

      Love ya Austin…. THANK YOU!!

      Paul (aka… “Mr. Everts”)

  2. Ken Carter

    Reply

    it is a tough life/job we choose to do Paul but i would not choose any other. i have been around you for a good part of your journey and appreciate that you have not given up. the Enemy will always harass us for standing up for our beliefs and core values but Yahweh (GOD) is bigger and will take care of us if we let Him. this upcoming year is #40 for me and I am excited to be doing it!
    God Bless
    Ken Carter

    • Paul Everts

      Reply

      Hello Ken,
      Wow!! Your comments got me to tear-up and definitely take a big breath and exhale. Literally… I just did that. I am so grateful for your time in reading my blog. I am very grateful for the message you sent me.

      I hope this response can give you a sense of how touched I am. REALLY! I DO.

      God is great. There is no way – especially how things have changed from 1979 or in my case 1989 – If I did not believe in Jesus Christ. I am hurt. People have been mean. Awful. But, yet … few compared to the hundreds who have loved me.

      Thank you again for the encouraging and love message. LOVE YA, KEN.

      Enjoy your FORTIETH YEAR OF TEACHING MUSIC. You are a flippin stud!!

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