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Richard Dickinson, Band Director, Kellogg High School This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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“I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.”
– John Steinbeck




Everyone has had great teachers in their lives – mentors who have helped shape their futures, who have held their metaphorical hands through the toughest of times. Here at Kellogg High School, nestled deep in the mountains of north Idaho, Richard Dickinson, our band director, is our great teacher. The amount of time and effort he has put into our band (making us one of the best in the state, by the way), and the pure devotion he puts into his job make him one of the best teachers I have ever met.

As just one example, every two years the band takes a trip to either Canada or Seattle, an event that requires Mr. Dickinson to put in hours of his own time and effort. These trips let us – his students – get a little culture in our lives. We live in an area very deprived of it.

In a school district hard hit by the recession and an arts program threatened yearly, Mr. Dickinson’s band perseveres. Teaching is not a chore for him; it’s a joyful task to mold young minds into great musicians. And his students are great; they play jazz like they were raised in New ­Orleans, classical like they grew up next to Beethoven, ­and they’re peppier than most cheerleaders at football games. I would bet money on the chance that one of Mr. Dickinson’s students will become famous, even though he doesn’t brag or push his students into being the best, and even though he hopes they’ll try to be. He’s understanding of the fact that not everyone is musically inclined.

He’s been teaching for 20 years, a number I can’t really imagine being correct, but it is. Working with kids, especially high-school students, for that long is an amazing feat. And he doesn’t just work with them; he works for them. He tries to do the best for every kid in band, no matter their ability. He doesn’t just stand at the front of the class and wave his arms around (though he does that too), he teaches students to love life and music and to never stop smiling. And that, I think, no matter how many thank-you cards we send or cookies we bake, is something we can never repay him for. If teaching is an art, then Mr. Dickinson is Leonardo Da Vinci.

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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