I have been blessed through the years to work with incredible people. Some of these folks are artists, musicians, media specialists, drama teachers and dance teachers. All of us are known as resource teachers. It is our job to enlighten young minds in all things artistic. I have worked with some of the most creative, innovative teachers who are masterful at their craft. It is a gift I do not take for granted. One of my dear friends told me that she "loved zinging with me!" That is artistic-speak for creating beauty all around us - whether it is heard, seen or experienced - someone has to create it. I have learned so much from my colleagues and my newest colleague, Brandon J. Lesando, is a musical force with which to be reckoned.
This young man (he is 25 years my junior) is one of the most talented, insightful first-year teachers I have ever met. He has more energy than anyone in our department. He is the new band director at my high school. I live next door in the chorus room and I was assigned to mentor Mr. Lesando through his first year as a professional educator.
It is my job to make sure he understands how to function within our Performing Arts Department. It is my job to make sure he meets deadlines placed upon him by the school and by the district. It is my job to make sure that he is well-supported through his first year of teaching. Statistics show that most teachers entering the workforce these days leave within their first three years. They can't handle the demands placed upon beginning teachers. They are easily overwhelmed.
Teaching is not for the faint-of-heart. It requires a great deal of patience as you learn to navigate the system. It also requires a passion that runs deep, so that when you are at your wits-end, you can remind yourself of the reason you chose this profession in the first place.
I have mentored many "teacherlings" over the past 12 years. Some were pre-interns who were just there to observe my teaching. Others were interns in their final year of teacher training at college. I have also worked with elementary education majors who were learning how to incorporate visual art and music into their curriculum. I LOVE working with "teacherlings." I love to watch them grow and learn as they navigate through their first year in the classroom. I love to watch the students grow to love them over time. I love to watch them teach, teach and re-teach so that everyone is successful. It is like watching a flower unfolding...it doesn't happen overnight.
Because Mr. Lesando is a rookie in the classroom, I am required to do two observations on him this year. We completed the first one in early November and his final observation yesterday. He is masterful at classroom management - the best I've ever seen. He has good teacher instincts. He scaffolds well. He teaches "in the moment." If something does not go according to plan, he makes adjustments and repeats the process. He plans, prepares and executes with great precision. Some of that is his naval training; some of it is just how he's wired.
It has been such a pleasure working with Mr. Lesando this year. My former band director told me before he left that I would love this guy. I do!!