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I’ve spent 35 years as a teacher and never regretted, for one moment, making the decision to choose teaching for my life’s work. There is no other profession that provides the fulfillment and satisfaction like teaching young minds. Teachers have one of the most important roles in our society. They help mold and shape future citizens that eventually become industry leaders; government officials; medical experts; lawyers; artisans; entertainers and much more—too many to name. “Being a teacher means teaching every child no matter what their needs; educating them to become life-long learners and contributors to society,” said Phyllis Falkenstein, Director of the Learning Center at Valley Christian Elementary School in Dublin. To become a teacher one needs a bachelor’s degree in an academic subject. It’s not unusual for teachers to minor in other subjects. A teaching credential is usually required in most states. When I was 17 years old and about to graduate from high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. My first year of college I majored in Business Administration, thinking that I would eventually go into some form of business. After one year in college I decided I wanted to be a high school band director, so I changed my major to Music Education. I graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a bachelor’s degree, then I spent another year in graduate school at Cal earning my teaching credential. I knew it would be better making my life’s work something I would be happy doing; possibly changing student’s lives for the better, rather than making more money in the business world. I got a teaching job right out of college and worked in the public school system for 12 years. I taught six years at Miramonte High School in Orinda as director of music; and six years as a counselor at Ygnacio Valley High School in Concord. Then, I decided to teach at the college level and work with students who wanted to be public school music teachers. I knew I would have a better chance getting a college job if I had a doctorate degree. While teaching high school I earned a master’s degree in Music Education at San Francisco State University. Then I started a Ph.D. program at Cal, finishing five years later. I sent out applications to various colleges and my first college job was at Sonoma State University. After six years I was hired at the University of California, Davis, as Director of Bands and Supervisor of Teacher Education in Music. This was my “Dream Job” where I spent the next 17 years before retiring. Teachers Influence Other than family members, teachers are some of the most influential people in our lives. We are exposed to teachers at a very young age, starting in pre-school and kindergarten and going on through 12th grade. The first few years in elementary school, the school day is shorter, then in middle school and high school students are under the influence of their teachers most of the day. After high school, college professors can have tremendous influence on one’s thinking and beliefs. We have all been influenced by someone, no matter what one’s station in life happens to be. Teachers play a most important role in influencing our thinking and understanding of the world around us. I am sure I had good teachers during my elementary school years but as I look back on those years, no outstanding individual comes to mind. It was not until I started high school that I realized that some of my teachers really had a great impact on my life. One man in particular, during my four years of high school, left an impression on me that would eventually lead to my life’s work as a high school teacher and university professor. When I started high school I took beginning band using my father’s alto saxophone. I enjoyed this class tremendously so the next year I signed up for advanced band. A new teacher came in to teach the music department classes. This was the start of a lifelong friendship with my band director. He inspired me so much, I became very active in the music department and eventually took on leadership responsibilities. I was elected band secretary and in my senior year I was elected drum major, thereby becoming second in command to the director. This teacher in my life, who had such an influence on me, other than my parents of course, was Richard C. Hansen of Acalanes High School in Lafayette. He taught me how important teaching was. I wanted to experience what I saw in him. After graduating from Cal I obtained my first job in the same district as Acalanes, then my mentor became my colleague; Mr. Dick Hansen became my lifelong friend. It was a privilege to make a living at something I really enjoyed doing. Every day I looked forward to going to work. As Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life!” Unfortunately not too many people can say that. I would heartily recommend teaching as a profession for those inclined to work with students and help guide them in their learning. Most men and women who teach our children are dedicated educators who historically are tragically underpaid, overworked and under-appreciated. One enters the profession knowing that it is not a way to become rich. I’d love to see legislation passed that would pay our teachers a salary level that would allow them to live comfortably, maybe even buy their own home. Teaching is a noble profession and those that dedicate their lives to our young people and their futures should not have to take a second job to make ends meet. Today many teachers are even asked to cover the costs of classroom supplies at their schools. Teachers spend countless hours outside the classroom preparing lessons, grading papers, planning events and special learning projects for their students. Teaching is truly one of the most important jobs there is and teachers should be compensated accordingly. I am so glad I chose education as a lifelong career. It has been very satisfying and rewarding working with students, watching them develop and flourish as competent and confident individuals. I encourage anyone who wants a rewarding profession, one that will give you great satisfaction in life, to be a teacher. Mark your calendar for “A Salute to John Williams,” the Danville Community Band’s annual Free Spring Concert, Sunday, June 12, 2016 at 3 p.m., Community Presbyterian Church in Danville. For information call 925-372-8420. Please submit your questions and comments to banddirector01@comcast.net Visit our website at www.danvilleband.org for up-to-date information about the Danville Community Band. m a y 2 0 1 6 A L I V E E A S T B A Y 15


AliveMay2016
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