Nov 16, 2022 - News

Meet Colorado's teacher of the year, a middle school band instructor

 Jimmy Day. Photo courtesy of Chalkbeat

Jimmy Day. Photo: Courtesy of Chalkbeat

This year's Colorado Teacher of the Year credits his own teachers for igniting his passion for music.

What he's saying: Jimmy Day, the band director at East Middle School in Aurora, says he had to skip band practice in school because he didn't have a ride home. His teacher noticed and offered to drive him, he tells Chalkbeat, our education reporting partner.

  • "I put the same energy into my students that I got from my band teachers in middle school through college. I am originally from Detroit. The band director at my middle school, Mrs. Knox, saw my potential to be a great instrumentalist. … At the time, I figured she was just being nice, but reflecting on it as an older person, I see that she saw me as an investment in her program, and she made sure to invest in me as well."

Zoom in: Day says his recipe for success is discipline.

  • "I teach discipline to the students by having non-negotiable rules, procedures and expectations. When they are in the classroom or in public, they are taught to look and act a certain way. When they practice or perform, there is a certain way they are expected to sound," he says.
  • "I build the morale of the students by setting them up for success. I give them attainable goals. In addition, I give them independent practice time to have some productive struggle. Their appreciation grows once they can figure it out."

Of note: He lists his favorite musicians as Denver's Earth, Wind and Fire. "Their energy and showmanship is what I enjoy and appreciate most," he says.

More from the interview


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