Teacher Stories: Andrew Ferrie, Nellie F. Bennett Elementary School General Music and Director of 5th Grade Chorus, Color Guard Coach
I teach General Music. I teach melody, harmony, rhythm, tempo, and I am big with composers of the month, but not just classical composers. Every month I cover a classical composer and a musical genre, and I will cover musical genres. Like for rock-n-roll I did Bruce Springsteen. I cover women composers, African American composers, and I wrap it all into one year.
I grew up going to Nellie F. Bennett elementary school. I went to middle school in this town, I went to Point Boro High School. This town is my home. I always wanted to be a music teacher. From middle school on, I knew that was what I wanted to do. In college, I was thinking of becoming a cruise ship singer, or I would audition to be a nightclub singer. I just wanted to sing. Then in February of my senior year, a job was posted at Nellie Bennett. I applied for it. I think they liked my bow tie or my energy, I don’t know, but I got the job, and they hired me as the general music teacher.
What I love most being a teacher is developing a love and an understanding and appreciation of my students. They are real people. So many adults will say, ‘Oh, you just teach elementary students, so you must just play games and sing songs all day.’ And I am like ‘No, I teach the methods and theory and background of music.’ I teach them the skills of music, and I also try to teach them how to be decent human beings in our society. I tell them if something is not kind or respectful or obedient or trustworthy and I explain if they made a bad choice and will discuss it with them and show them why.’ I think as elementary teachers it is all of our jobs to teach them to be decent human beings.
Today, I was teaching a 4th grade general music class, and because it was Friday, they had a lot of energy, and I had a lot of energy, and we are all having a great time, and then I had to bring it back down. I told them I am going to teach them 16th notes. And they are like, ‘What are 16th notes?’ And by the end of class I had them doing 16th notes and triplets and at one point I stopped for a second and I was just standing there and just took it all in. These kids who had no idea what 16th notes were when class began, by the end of class are nailing it, clapping to the rhythm, and their faces are so excited, and I am like, ‘Wow, this is why I do this.’ At the end of the day, if I am able to make some kind of difference in their lives, with all that is going on in the world, to be able to achieve that, then I have done my job.