School Band and Orchestra Magazine’s 17th annual “50 Directors Who Make a Difference” highlights some of the best music educators across all fifty states. These outstanding band and orchestra directors were nominated by our readers, including current and former students, colleagues and peers, parents, and others who’ve had a wonderful experience with the music programs put on by these amazing teachers. SBO asked each teacher the same three questions, including their proudest teaching moments, how they hope to make a difference in students’ lives, and to tell us what the most important lesson they try to teach each of their students is. Their answers are as varied as the geographic locations of these music programs. We found the responses to be inspiring, thought-provoking, and insightful, and think you will, too. And now, SBO proudly salutes the 2014 class of 50 Directors Who Make a Difference!
Name: Dan Hodgkins
School: Torrington Middle School
City, State: Torrington, CT
Total years teaching: 13
Years at current school: 13
Number of students in instrumental music program: 210
What is your proudest moment as an educator?
I am incredibly proud of the number of students who have gone on to pursue music in some fashion after high school. To think that I may have helped shape that love of music makes me incredibly proud.
How do you hope to make a difference in students’ lives?
I’ve shared my joys, my frustrations, my achievements, and my struggles. No matter what, and my students know this, I will give them 100 percent of whatever I can. I truly want my students to know that honesty is always the best policy, and that I care about them – whether they are first or last chair, I want them to be the best musician they can. Not everyone will play every note. I want them to be the best they can be, and I will support them every step of the way.
What is the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?
Do the work. There are no shortcuts, and there is no “easy way.” The only way to better yourself, in any aspect of your life, is to accept the fact that you will have to work at it. Those that do, see the results. Those that shy away from it, are still waiting for the results. It won’t happen on its own.