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Featuring Travis Weller '95

 

Position: Instrumental Music Teacher
School: Mercer High School
Location: Mercer, PA
Graduate School: Duquesne University (M.Ed.), Kent State (Ph.D.)
Graduate Program: Master of Education in Music Education; Currently a philosophical doctoral candidate at Kent State University (graduating in Spring 2013)

Information about Travis's graduate school experience

(Profiled: December 2011)

 

 

 

 

 

 

  How did you connect with this job opportunity?

♦  What attracted you to this position?

♦  What are the most gratifying aspects of your job?

♦  What has been/was your biggest challenge as a first-year teacher?

♦  How did your time at GCC prepare you for the teaching field?

♦  What advice would you give to a current pre-service teacher in order to better prepare for his or her future classroom?

♦  What job search tips would you give to GCC students?

 

How did you connect with this job opportunity?

Wowwhat a week it was. In late August of 1995 I was 72 hours away from leaving for a Graduate Assistantship at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. At 9:30 p.m. my phone rang, it was the Principal at Mercer Jr.-Sr. High School. He got my home number from Dr. Arnold. He cut right to the chase informing me that the band was two days into band camp, the director had turned in her resignation, and could I interview on Friday. I delayed leaving for Louisiana at the request of then Superintendent Dr. Connelly (GCC Adjunct Professor for many years). He called on Sunday evening to let me know I was their candidate, and that I should come to a board meeting on Monday night, and “wear a tie.”

 

What attracted you to this position?

Being a grade 7-12 Band Director allows you to experience a wide range of students in terms of ability and interest. It also has opportunities to provide many different experiences in instrumental music through performance in various groupseach of which are able to play a wide range of styles and meet a host of performance demands. This was a “dream job”close to my family, to my girlfriend’s family (now my wife) which provided personal support system, and close to my mentors and friends which provided a system of professional support. The opportunity in Louisiana would have been nice, however looking back on the past 17 years of my career this could not have worked out any better. I am a blessed man in that regard, and eternally thankful.

 

What are the most gratifying aspects of your job?

I get to work at something I love. I get to share with students and lead them in an art form that I love. To watch students be transformed as people and musicians through music is an awesome experience.

 

What has been/was your biggest challenge as a first-year teacher?

One of the things that is sometimes still a burden for many teachers are the non-teaching responsibilities and demands on your time. Classroom management, content knowledge, communication skills, professional responsibility and courtesy are the easy part. Music administration is something that does not get enough depth in the methods classesfrom communicating with parents and booster groups, long range planning of trips and concert schedules, yearly planning of extra-curricular rehearsals, and financial planning for large equipment and uniform purchases are just a few items I had to learn on the job.

 

How did your time at GCC prepare you for the teaching field?

I left GCC with great undergraduate teaching and leadership experiences in addition to content knowledge and management skills. I am always grateful for the individual attention and instruction that was afforded me during my experience.

 

What advice would you give to a current pre-service teacher in order to better prepare for his or her future classroom? 

♦  Begin getting field teaching experience often, and get them in places outside your comfort zone. If you came from a rural high school, get some pre-service experience in an urban population. If you came from a large school, go to a small school. This is good practice regardless of your discipline.

♦  Align yourself with a music educator who you aspire to be. Serve an apprenticeship with a director who you get to know through extra experiences at a summer band camp, a musical, or through teaching private lessons. Compare their teaching about what you know about your owncould you teach in a position similar to theirs? Could you teach in a style similar to theirs? What would you do or seek to be different?

 

What job search tips would you give to GCC students?

Remain connected. The music education world is highly connected through these apprenticeships and unofficial partnerships. You must be able to use what you know effectively to get noticedbut who you know and who you are come in to play. As important as those two traits, others need to know who you are (core of character) and what you can do in situations that matter. A former assistant of mine is now the Director of Athletic Bands at the University of Hawaii because of that today.

 

More information about Travis's graduate school experience

 

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Maintained By: Deb Snyder | Last Updated: January 2014