Continuing in my Month of Thanks, here is my letter for October 3rd.
To Mr. Rex Towns-
By the time I hit my senior year of high school, I was done with everything: my peers, school, music…
Yes, music. The one thing that kept me going in the bleakest moments of public school torture. The one bright spot in my days. The one place I knew, KNEW, I couldn’t be berated for not being good enough. Three years under a single chorus teacher had my love of singing dangling by a precarious thread over a pit of despair.
The moment I walked into the choir room at North High, I knew, beyond any doubt, that I had made the right decision in changing schools. All of it had to do with you. For the first time in years, I saw what it was like to have a teacher that truly cared about his students, who wanted to see them succeed, who appreciated them for the individual qualities each brought to the choir. I went from being pushed aside for parts in music programs, to being pushed to the front of the list. When I told you what I wanted from my senior year, you did everything you could to help me succeed. I wanted to make my it my third year as an Iowa All-State Honor Choir member. You helped make it happen. I wanted to be a part of the royal court for the madrigal dinner (something I’d been passed over for previously in favor of people who could barely carry a tune), and you welcomed me with open arms. When you asked what part I was interested in for our spring musical, for once I was more than a nameless background chorus member. When I wanted to audition for the music program at Florida State, you put me in touch with a professor at SDSU who provided excellent private lessons and solo pieces for the attempt.
You brought me fully and completely under the wing of the vocal music program and your brilliant direction. Your sense of humor injected even the longest of rehearsals with levity and no matter how many hours we were there on a Saturday, I never once regretted giving up that time. As a result of your support and care, my senior year of high school was easily the best of my life up to that point. I found my love of music once again, made some fantastic friends, and finally had a little light in my life.
Your response to my senior picture, the one with me head down in a book, made you grin. “It’s completely different, just like you,” you said. And, for once, those words weren’t an insult. They were filled with admiration and respect and I will never, ever forget it.
If I had to pick a favorite teacher of all the teachers I’ve ever had, it would be you. Your effect on my life was so profound and uplifting, I wouldn’t hesitate to call your placement at that moment you were there anything short of miraculous. When I left East High, I emerged from a poisonous environment that was slowly killing me. What I found in your classroom still means the world to me to this day.
I will forever be grateful to what you gave me simply in being who you are.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart,