Even Better than the Diploma
While still teaching full time, Mr. Reed continued his education, eventually earning a doctoral degree. At the first concert after the completion of his Ph.D., Mr. Reed was surprised when the Band Boosters threw a surprise reception for him following the show. The reception was attended by past and present students and band parents. The highlight of the evening was when the students presented Mr. Reed with a scrapbook that featured a congratulatory note from every student and numerous parents. It became one of his most treasured possessions.
A Generous Gift
At the conclusion of a school year, Mr. Reed found an envelope on his desk. Inside was a nice note from one of the band families. Mr. Reed had taught both of their daughters, and the family wanted to show their appreciation for all he had done. Included with the note was a generous $250 gift card to the best restaurant in town. The family concluded their note by saying they hoped Mr. Reed enjoyed this even a small percentage of how much they enjoyed working with him.
Know Your Students
As a young teacher, Mr. Reed was focused on forming and maintaining a band program that was a consistent winner at competitions and festivals. He had a student who as a high school junior still struggled to play a Bb scale. She never seemed to have her act together, and it looked from the outside as if she didn’t care. After a band event, she would often have to wait over an hour to be picked up.
Mr. Reed wondered why she stayed in band, as she didn’t seem to be contributing to the organization or to herself. While he hated for anyone to quit band, he wondered if this wouldn’t be best for everyone. When he went to discuss this with the guidance counselor, he learned that she came from a troubled home with a lack of parental support. He also learned that it was usually a neighbor or one of her mother’s friends who came to pick her up from school after band events, not her parents.
Mr. Reed felt so ashamed of himself and sorry for her that it changed his entire attitude toward her, his other students, and how he was teaching. She remained in the band throughout her high school career and upon her graduation wrote Mr. Reed a note. She wrote that while she knew she was not the best player, she was so proud to be in the band, and that it was the greatest experience of her life. She also wrote that he was the only good role model she had ever known. This student taught Mr. Reed much more than he ever taught her, and he made his teaching student focused for the remainder of his career. He still has the note.
Final Concert Surprise
Mr. Reed was retiring from teaching after 30+ years in education. He knew the concert was going to be emotional, but he did not realize the surprises that awaited him. Prior to the last number on the program. Mr. Reed spoke to the audience and thanked them for making his career so enjoyable. He thanked students, parents, colleagues and the community for all they had done for him. At that point, the President of the Band Boosters came to the stage and announced that the Boosters were commissioning the Mr. Reed Scholarship awarded to one senior who was attending college as a music major. Obviously, Mr. Reed was very touched by this and began to weep. Then each of his band and orchestra classes presented him with gifts.
After the final selection, Mr. Reed thought the festivities were over when the Booster President announced, “Anyone who has been a student of Mr. Reed’s, we would like you to come to the stage and play the school fight song one more time under his direction.” Mr. Reed wept uncontrollably as more than 100 former students had brought their horns to join his current students one stage. In fact, there were so many players they had to spill out into the auditorium.
Following his Mr. Holland moment, a reception was held in the cafeteria as well-wishers stopped by to wish him the best in hrs retirement and retell old stories. Mr. Reed had no idea any of this was going to happen and he felt humbled, grateful and fulfilled. As he left the school that night, he said to himself. “I would do it all over again.”