For The Teachers Who Inspire Us

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” 

~ Albert Einstein

Lately I have been thinking about who my teachers were – the ones who were kind, the ones who seemed to have a hate on for me for whatever reason, but especially the ones who inspired me.  Maybe I have the February blahs, but I have not been feeling very inspired these days.  Fortunately what I remember about a particular teacher who has stood out in my mind has really lifted my spirits.  In fourth grade, I had an unusual teacher named Mr. Blugh (pronounced blue).  On reflection, he was not a conventional teacher who made us colour inside the lines or who taught us to the test.  It seemed to me that he guided us in ways that were really fun, and that he viewed his students as capable and creative individuals.

Through various writing projects I have revisited those days in grade four – the friends, the bullies, the first loves, the first losses, but in particular the music.  Mr. Blugh insisted that we each learn to play the ukulele and I recall some fun times playing It’s a Small World  (It\’s a Small World) and La Paloma Blanca (La Paloma Blanca).   Although there are some comical aspects to these memories, what is essential to me is that Mr. Blugh created a learning environment where creativity was considered a natural and important part of our education and where each student had the opportunity to be good at something and to shine.  Creativity was not just encouraged, it was expected.

The kind of support I got in Mr. Blugh’s classroom was precious to me for a lot of reasons.  I don’t think any other teacher succeeded in making me feel good about myself in quite the same way that he did, at a time when very little made me feel good about myself.  So, as a tribute to Mr. Blugh and to other teachers who make it a priority to help the creativity of their students to flourish, I have decided to put together a small collection of short clips from movies that put the spotlight on teachers who bring the arts into the lives of learners (children and adults alike) because they understand the power that the arts have to inspire, to give confidence, to educate, to dare people to dream, to open up new possibilities and to transform lives.

School of Rock (School of Rock) is for the teacher who dances to his or her own drum.

“8:15 to 10, rock history. 10 to 11, rock appreciation in theory. And then band practice till the end of the day.”

Sister Act (Sister Act) is for the teacher who helps students to see that they can do it!  (It’s also for fun).

“Visualize yourself in room full of people, lots of silverware, people talking loud, dropping stuff, women with trays going ‘whadda ya gonna have?’. Your voice has to carry across the din, you have to get up over all of that to be heard in the back of the room where I’m sitting, listening, straining to hear you.”

Take the Lead (Take the Lead) is for the teacher who gets to the heart of what motivates students to learn, so they can get to the heart of what the art form is teaching them.

“Do you love to dance? Then you’re meant to dance.”

Music of the Heart (Music of the Heart) is for the teacher who believes it is every child’s right to an arts education – the teacher who will do whatever it takes to make that happen.

“This beautiful concert that you’ve just heard could be the very last concert for the East Harlem Violin Program. The board of education and the district attorney think that music isn’t important. But they are wrong! And they’re gonna get a big fight!”

And Mr. Holland’s Opus (Mr. Holland\’s Opus) is for any teacher who may not realize what a big impact they have on the lives of students.

“Mr. Holland had a profound influence on my life and on a lot of lives I know. But I have a feeling that he considers a great part of his own life misspent. Rumor had it he was always working on this symphony of his. And this was going to make him famous, rich, probably both. But Mr. Holland isn’t rich and he isn’t famous, at least not outside of our little town. So it might be easy for him to think himself a failure. But he would be wrong, because I think that he’s achieved a success far beyond riches and fame. Look around you. There is not a life in this room that you have not touched, and each of us is a better person because of you. We are your symphony Mr. Holland. We are the melodies and the notes of your opus. We are the music of your life.”

Watching these clips reminds me of that teacher who really did have a positive impact on me, (and for that matter, of the impact I always hoped I’d have on young children through teaching music).  If you should find yourself one day reading this Mr. Blugh, I just wanted to let you know that the short role you played in my life did make a long term difference.

So thank you.

“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them become what they are capable of becoming.” 

~ Goethe


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