MARKED TREE, ARKANSAS (KAIT) --Every month we highlight a teacher nominated by you, our viewers, as our Teacher of the Month. One of these special teachers will be chosen as our Teacher of the Year.
For December, we had a blast with Marked Tree High School band instructor Sara Garland.
"Every morning my thought is it's not about me. I'm doing something for them to help them better their lives, help them to have a track for the future."
Technically speaking Sara Garland is enjoying that first full year of teaching experience. She says she learns while she teaches.
Garland, "I'm learning about the students as a group and as individuals. Learning for me is an on -going process, it will never stop. "
Garland comes from a musical family but didn't go right into teaching after graduating from ASU but still that thought was in the back of her head and little things kept prompting her to change the direction of her life.
She says the signs would start in the fall. "Every day I would drive past a lot of schools and watch a lot of the bands out doing their thing in the fall and I just thought I would really like to be a part of that again."
As with any high school teacher Sara says she has to be on her game all the time. It's her way of motivating her students.
"I'm pretty high energy when I'm in front of this group. I like to keep them on their toes. I want to make it interesting for them. I have to make them laugh. If they're not laughing and having a good time then we're not all on board."
Even though the band had just performed their last concert of 2011, Garland had them working on basics, going through rudimentary drills to help them improve.
Garland, "I like to keep them on their toes because if they aren't constantly thinking and doing some extra work and really moving and keeping the hands on things going on, then I don't think we're making as much progress as we could."
The Marked Tree program certainly isn't the biggest in Region 8 but they do have a really good sound as they played a piece of Christmas music for me. Many times music programs are the first cut at budget time but Garland says an organized music program is one of the most important things a school can offer it's students.
"It is a creative process and you're activating parts of the brain that quite frankly some other places you just can't do that. "
Being a musician herself she makes sure her students understand it's more than blowing a horn or banging a drum. She said this past summer when she first came on board was tough on her and the kids both. "It was hot and every kind of mosquito zeroed in on us." she laughed.
Garland looked out her office window at her senior band who was getting ready for rehearsal. "We work hard and they understand the dedication that it takes and my standards are high."
And what's the best part of her job?
"Best part about my job is when someone gets it, they finally get it. We've been working on something they may be having trouble with and then you just see their face light up."