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!

Tracy23 said...
Jun. 17, 2009 at 2:30 pm

This was a great story about your teacher. Obviously you respect him and appreciate him very much. He must be a really great guy. Great job and I hope the magazine adds it.
mlc said...
Jun. 17, 2009 at 2:11 pm
Nicely written article. Makes me want to meet Mr cantagallo and thank him for inspiring young people in such a positive way. Good job :)
bodie said...
Jun. 17, 2009 at 1:00 pm
That was a great article, very inspirational. Glad to know that there are teachers motivating and getting the kids excited about something.
Vera said...
Jun. 17, 2009 at 2:43 am
This is a wonderful essay, and it your teacher should be very proud of having such a caring student writing this story about her experience of the entertaining events at his class. I must say your essay makes me want to meet Mr Cantagallo to see this wonder teacher for myself:) You really captured what a real teacher mean in someone's life. I am glad I received this essay to read. Thank you.
msruth said...
Jun. 17, 2009 at 2:23 am
Great job. The article is well written and fun to read. I feel like I really know Mr. C from what you've said about him and I can tell how much you think of him. Good luck!
FormerScoutLeader said...
Jun. 17, 2009 at 1:22 am
Mr. Cantagallo sounds like an excellent role model. You have done a good job of sharing with readers how he truly goes above and beyond. He should be proud of how well you have portrayed him. Your admiration of his hard work clearly comes across in your writing. Excellent job!
VParker said...
Jun. 17, 2009 at 12:23 am
Lisa, this was really fun to read! The words and voice made me want to keep going, and wish there was more when I got to the end! I don't know Mr. C personally, but he appears to be a wonderful teacher and mentor. Great job on the article!
BWhalen said...
Jun. 16, 2009 at 4:45 pm
Very nice job, Lisa! I would agree with you that Mr. C is an awesome and enthusiastic teacher with many experiences to share in a humorous way. Keep up your writing. You have a knack for it.
TrumpetPlayer01 said...
Jun. 16, 2009 at 4:41 pm
Wow, Lisa. Great job! I remember you handing it to me before school and you just FORCED me to read it! (I'm glad I did!) You have to keep writing stuff! I love the way that you use words to describe things, like the splat noise. I am wishing you the best of luck! Keep writing!
puplove128 said...
Jun. 16, 2009 at 2:15 am
Amazing job Liz. I am so proud of you. You used "smart people words" :). Your grammer was great and it sounded like you really spoke from your heart. Good job. This is a great article, and I hope you win. To everyone else, lisa worked very hard on this essay. She had many people at school proof it and check over her mistakes. If you don't enjoy this essay, you are nuts! If you don't like this article, atleast giver her constructive critisism.

choco said...
Jun. 16, 2009 at 1:17 am
That is awesome, breiteliza! Very well put together and well written!
MJFL said...
Jun. 16, 2009 at 3:30 pm
Hey u guess! vote a ton for this article! it rocks!!!!!!!!!!!
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