Mr. Matchett was my high-school band director. He has always been my inspiration for how I teach and communicate with my students. I remember vividly sitting in my chair with my flute on my lap feeling very frustrated because I couldn't get it just right. Mr. Matchett offered words of encouragement and taught me strategies to overcome my frustration and just do it. He taught me to feel music. He challenged me with really really hard pieces and taught me the stamina I needed to practice and practice and practice until we got it right. He never let me get away with second best. He pushed me to my limit so I could see what my limit was and surpass it. He didn't water anything down. He was never mean or demeaning. He made me see that I could do anything I set my mind to.
I was not a healthy teenager. I was often sick and I spent some time in the hospital. Mr. Matchett was always very encouraging when I came back. He always asked how I was feeling. It seems like such a little thing but it was so important to me. I hated high-school (I'm sorry Mr. Matchet) I highly disliked high-school. It was so hard and I felt I wasn't good at anything. I found it very hard to focus and I was very sensitive to the comments from my classmates. Band was my haven. It was my safe place. It felt so good to play a section of music, look up, and get a glint from Mr. Matchett's eye that said "that's it...keep going". Mr. Matchett did not put up with students making fun of others. He cultivated us into a team and we supported one another. If it were not for band I don't know how I would have survived my high-school years. Mr. Matchett is to this day, one of the most encouraging people I know.
Mr. Matchett was my Mr. Falker. This year when I read this book to my students, I broke a cardinal rule of teaching, "Never cry in front of your students".
At the end of the book Patricia Polacco tells how she meets Mr. Falker and he asks her what she does and she says "Why Mr. Falker, I write books for children. Thank you Mr. Falker." I broke out in tears because I was thinking about Mr. Matchett and what his encouragement ment to me. I told my students about Mr. Matchett and how if it hadn't been for him, I wouldn't be standing in front of them. I know I would not be a teacher today if it had not been for him pushing me and encouraging me to always do my best.
I know Mr. Matchett is reading this so I would like to say.
"Why Mr. Matchett, I teach children. Just like you taught me. Thank you Mr. Matchett! Thank you!"
Go #ThankaTeacher today! They deserve to know how much they meant to you.