Teacher Name: Sean Potts
Grade/Subject: 6-8 Middle School Band
Tell us a little about yourself – your hometown, education, and hobbies.
I’m originally from Rochester, New York and am currently in my 6th year teaching with D428 schools (this is my 10th year teaching overall). I earned my undergrad degree in Music Education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia and later taught high school band in Richmond, Virginia before moving to Illinois to attend Northwestern University, where I earned a Master’s degree in Music Education in 2009.
I’m currently in my 2nd year of the Administrative Leadership Program at Northern Illinois University and will graduate with my second Master’s degree and my Principal’s Endorsement in Summer 2016. My three biggest interests (outside of music) are history, film, and travel. I love movies (all genres/all decades) and going the theater to see a play or show whenever I can. I’m a foodie and love trying new restaurants or experiencing new things. I enjoy travel and visiting cities and places I’ve never been. I never say “no” to a road trip with friends.
What do you love about teaching for District 428?
D428, especially my own school – Huntley Middle School, is just a fun place to be any day of the week. Our staff is kind, supportive, collaborative, and hard working. In my role as band director I get to work with 180 supremely talented and driven young students making music. I think D428 schools offer fantastic opportunities for students and families outside of just your day-to-day academics and it’s truly a fun place to be every day.
How do you uniquely engage your students to embrace music and generate excitement for learning?
In my role as a middle school band directly, an important part of my job is generating enthusiasm to join the band program. Over the years we’ve seen the HMS band program grow from 90 students (grades 6-8) to 180 students as of 2015-16. Students in the band program feel excited to be there because they know they play an important role and have a unique community to belong to. They get to perform regularly for friends, family, and community and are offered numerous leadership opportunities. We develop self-discipline, responsibility, passion, dedication, and excitement in all of our students in band.
Students in band get to work together in teams to support one another and the ensemble as a whole through sectional work and small ensemble performances. Additionally, they have opportunities to perform and compete both as individuals and as an ensemble. Our bands have earned Superior Ratings at State Assessments for the last three years. So there is a sense of pride to be a member of the HMS Band Program/D428 music program.
What is the #1 reason why you are proud to be a teacher in DeKalb Schools?
I’m most proud of our students. In my 6 years in D428 I’ve had the honor of teaching some of the most talented/gifted students, many of whom have gone on to have tremendous success as young adults. It’s a privilege to have had any small role in their achievements.
What piece of advice would you give your students as they grow beyond DeKalb High School?
I tell my students, no matter their age or grade level, to never be afraid to take chances and explore the unknown. You never know where life will take you and embracing that fact will open you up to endless possibility.
I also always advise my students to be kind to others and keep an open heart. You never know when you could be that person that makes all the difference in another person’s life, even if it’s just a simple act of kindness.