Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Hall of Fame

Today I'm thinking about Hall of Fame careers.

Recently, Terrell Davis, former running back for the Denver Broncos, found out that he will be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame this coming year. What a wonderful recognition of a great career, albeit a short one. A couple of days ago, I heard Mark Schlereth, former offensive lineman on the same team and current radio broadcaster, tell a great story about Terrell Davis. He said that Davis was on his Radio Show recently when Mark expressed a real sense of pride that his teammate was going into the Hall of Fame. He said, "It's almost like I am going into the Hall of Fame." Terrell Davis responded by telling Schlereth that he is, in fact, going into the Hall of Fame. He, in fact, owns a piece of that bust that will be put up and that yellow jacket. For, they were teammates. And nothing great ever can happen without a Hall of Fame team.

Schlereth then went on to tell Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, hosts of Mike & Mike in the Morning on ESPN radio, that he was really proud to have been on two Hall of Fame teams over the course of his career. The Denver Broncos, the team that Terrell Davis was being recognized for, and Mike and Mike in the Morning, the magnificent morning radio show that has been on ESPN's radio waves for the past 16 years. Schlereth went on to articulate how all Hall of Fame teams require sacrifice on the part of each individual. It's family. It's about taking care of each other and loving each other in many ways. Sacrifice is the central  important  concept.

I heard this story while I was driving in the car and it really moved me. I began reflecting on my career and the amazing Hall of Fame teams that I have been part of. I have made three stops in my professional career. First in Palmyra Pennsylvania where I was so fortunate to be mentored by magnificent music educators and others that cared for me as a young professional. They were, effectively Hall of Fame mentors and teachers for me.  Three of those individuals are: Dan Hoover, an amazing elementary instrumental teacher who modeled excellence, stellar musicianship, and consistency every day; JB Yorty, a lively and unique individual who taught elementary classroom music, kept me in line, and challenged me to look and act like a pro during my time in Palmyra; and Fred Otto, a hilarious and totally effective middle school music instructor who inspired kids to keep playing and laughing every day at Palmyra Middle School for many years.  These guys really shaped me during those formative years in my teaching career.

In 1991, I moved on to Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt Maryland where I became part of my 2nd Hall of Fame Team. When I landed at Roosevelt it became clear to me that I was working side-by-side with some of the best instructors and teachers that the music education business could possibly provide: Sally Wagner, Barbara Baker, and Judy Moore, along with principal Dr. Gerald Boarman. Sally Wagner was the band director at Eleanor Roosevelt High School for about 40 years and is the author of The Band Directors Guide: In the Pursuit of Excellence.  Sally and I shared an office and many great musical and professional moments over the years.    Dr. Barbara Baker, who was at ERHS for many years as well, is now retired and enjoys a vibrant career as guest conductor and speaker all over the world in the area of choral music. Barbra taught me more than I could ever express in one blog post.  Judy Moore was our department chair and administrative department leader. She had a keen sense of how to keep our multi-tasking department moving in a common direction and all on the same page. Dr. Gerald Boarman, principal of ERHS at the time, went on to serve as Chancellor of the North Carolina School of Science and Math and is now the head of the Bullis School in Potomac Maryland. He is noted nationally as a progressive leader of specialized and innovative academic institutions.

16 years ago I found myself at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham North Carolina and knew that I had left and amazing, Hall of Fame team of colleagues in the music department at ERHS. Since that day I had been seeking to recreate the environment that I experienced at Eleanor Roosevelt. There was something exciting about every single day working with these amazing colleagues and knowing that something special was going to happen in the classroom and on the performance stage each time we got together. We at NCSSM certainly have that team in place now!  Currently, I am so aware that things are really clicking in the Fine Arts Department at the North Carolina School of Science and Math. I am so blessed to have these Hall of Fame colleagues to work with. My colleague in the music department is Phillip Riggs, 2016 Grammy Award winner for Music Education. I couldn't have a more caring, humble colleague. He is a fantastic musician and and magnificent advocate for our students and our institution. David Stuntz, our Choral Director has just the right mix of musical expertise, choral chops, and caring father figure. Adam Sampieri, Theater Instructor, brings a young energy, artistic experience, and impeccable pedagogical sense to the classroom and theater rehearsal every day. Cary Alter, the newest addition to our team, rounds out this Hall of Fame team, bringing a real air of deep thought, fresh energy, and artistic talent to our Visual Arts discipline.

Hall of Fame teams require sacrifice on the part of each individual. It's family. It's about taking care of each other and loving each other in many ways. Sacrifice is the central  important  concept. I have had this 3 times in my career.  It is such a pleasure to go to work every day as part of a great team. Somehow,  Mondays rarely bother me. 

I wish each of you the opportunity to be part of a Hall of Fame team. It starts with sacrifice. 


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