Patrick Cantagallo This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

June 2, 2009
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In this essay I could tell you that my teacher is everything a good teacher should be, but that would be a lie. My teacher isn't everything a good teacher should be – he is everything an exemplary teacher should be. The teacher I speak of is Mr. Patrick Cantagallo, band director at Hawthorn Middle North. He is also a cross-country coach, athletic director, music teacher, jazz band director, trumpet player in a band, expectant father, NASCAR enthusiast, and my Girl Scout advisor.

Because Mr. Cantagallo directs three bands, he has triple the job. But I think he likes getting to tell his funny stories multiple times each day. When we are tired in band, he tells us stories to give us a rest from playing. As a band director, he is unique. When he describes musical notes, he doesn't just say, “Make it shorter” – he says, “Splat splat make it short bop.” When we asked him what “splat” was, he said it's like when you get a wet paper towel and throw it against the wall.

Mr. Cantagallo's class is never boring. Something funny always happens. Don't get me wrong, band isn't a madhouse; it's a fun class where we learn a lot and make friends. The atmosphere he creates makes us feel free to express ourselves, which helps us bond with our bandmates.

Mr. Cantagallo is also a cross-country coach. He loves running and is very zealous, which makes him a good coach. He is a role model and is very committed to everything he does. Mr. Cantagallo has a passion for music and uses it to help others.

If I had to pick Mr. Cantagallo's favorite genre of music, I would say jazz. As director of our jazz band, he has us play really fun songs. I never liked jazz until this year, but now I can't wait to do it again next year. I discovered a new passion and I have him to thank!

Mr. Cantagallo is a spectacular trumpet player. He has spunk and if he makes a mistake he doesn't pause and turn crimson, he just keeps playing. He always tells us, “When you're driving a race car and you make a mistake, you can't think, Oh no, I just messed up! You have to keep going and just pretend it never happened, and people won't notice.” This is really helpful advice, and I use it a lot.

Some might wonder why a male teacher would be helping out with Girl Scouts. I have to admit that when I was considering him as my advisor, I was skeptical that he would want to do it. But when I asked him, he was honored and very enthusiastic. He is always saying, “Am I doing everything I'm supposed to?” It's really nice working with him and I'm glad I picked him.

The best thing about Mr. Cantagallo is that he wants us to take what we learn in band and apply it to our lives. On the first day of band he said that no matter how busy we are, it's good to have an activity or hobby that we love to do, even if it's not a top priority. Mr. Cantagallo, you are a brilliant educator and musician, and I appreciate all you do. Thank you!

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 32 comments. Post your own now!

Mary said...
Jul. 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm
Loved the article! Sounds like a great teacher! I have wonderful memories of my band teachers, so glad you are giving him the credit he so well deserves.
Mary T from NC said...
Jun. 22, 2009 at 6:23 pm
Hi Liz,

Thank you so much for your wonderful article on Mr Cantagallo. I loved your wonderfully descriptive phrases and do not think I will look at a wet paper towel again without thinking of musical notes. I could not tell you who got the Academy Award last year for best actress but I can tell you in two seconds the name of the teachers who touched my life. How wonderful that you took the time to write a tribute to your teacher. Not only does he sound like a good teacher but I ... (more »)
mom said...
Jun. 19, 2009 at 6:57 pm
I think this essay is excellent!!!!!. Her sentance structure for a 7th grade is quite mature. I personnally know Mr. Cantagall and she has described him accurately. The only little change I would suggest is to use a bit more pronouns for Mr C./band director and the word band -
PT said...
Jun. 19, 2009 at 6:50 pm

I enjoyed reading your article. band was one of my favortie classes growing up as well, and it was all because of my director. You are lucky to have a teacher that inspires you so. well done Mr.C
breiteliza This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 19, 2009 at 5:32 pm
Hi its Lisa! I wrote this for Mr.C because he is a really great teacher and he does a lot and I'm like hey it would be awesome to write about him! I want to thank everyone who has commented and been very supportive through editing and such! You guys are amazing and great people for taking the time to read my article! You've made this experience x1000000 times more fun! I also want to thank my girl scout leaders Mrs.Parker and Mrs.Powell who sent this email to everyone and I want to thank a... (more »)
Christine said...
Jun. 19, 2009 at 5:05 pm
Outstanding job! As a former school teacher, I would be extremely honored if one of my former students wrote such a wonderful article. I am sure he appreciates you too as one of his students. Well done!
Sandy M. said...
Jun. 19, 2009 at 12:08 am
It's wonderful having a teacher who loves their job and has such a positive impact on his students. I had a 6th grade teacher many yrs ago whom I still remember.
Lesley444 said...
Jun. 18, 2009 at 7:11 pm
Great article. Wish we had more educators like him.
angelorourke said...
Jun. 18, 2009 at 6:54 pm
Great written article! What a wonderful rolemodel Mr. Cantegallo is for his students. It's not always easy to engage and motivate middle school age students... good for you Mr. Cantegallo. Thanks for the inspiring article!
pd said...
Jun. 18, 2009 at 6:03 pm
What a great article!. It is good to know that there are still teachers out there inspiring our students.
SK 14213 said...
Jun. 18, 2009 at 5:48 pm
Nice job! Your teacher is very lucky to have had you as a student. Kudos to you for taking the time to recognize his efforts.
powell said...
Jun. 18, 2009 at 4:47 pm
Wow, what a great article Lisa...sounds like Mr. C really makes a difference at your school
auntemmy said...
Jun. 18, 2009 at 3:51 pm
This article clearly shows your respect and admiration for Mr. Cantagallo. Very clear ideas and well thought out! Great job! Teachers need to hear what a great job they're doing!
Wendy Troop 1411 said...
Jun. 18, 2009 at 3:07 pm
Every role model like this deserves to be recognized and you did an outstanding job doing that. Way to go!!! Mr. C. you have made a wonderful impact here and believe there are more out there that feel the same!!!
GS Leader JCH said...
Jun. 18, 2009 at 2:33 pm
So glad you have found a teacher that inspires you! You've done a good job capturing his enthusiasm with your words. It's wonderful how passion is contagious - the gift that keeps giving. Thanks for passing it on!
reese said...
Jun. 18, 2009 at 2:23 pm
Liz, you did a wonderful job recognizing the achievements of your teacher. Your story really shows all the ways that he cares about being a excellent teacher.
jabgd said...
Jun. 18, 2009 at 2:04 pm
Great job - nothing inspires more than a teacher who is there for you.
sls said...
Jun. 18, 2009 at 3:56 am
Wonderful essay - what an amazing tribute to a teacher! Well done!
groundcontrol said...
Jun. 18, 2009 at 3:11 am
A star may have been just born. Quite a writing style you got. Nicely done, Liza
pkb said...
Jun. 17, 2009 at 4:43 pm
Nice job. Wonderful teachers need to be told that the passion and hard work they have is appreciated. Your teacher and family should be proud.
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