Suburban band teacher has students marching toward one goal — even though they are apart

Teacher of the Month

CHICAGO HEIGHTS, Ill. — A high school band director in the south suburbs is really striking a chord with his students.

Michael Bielecki is the Director of Bands at Bloom Township High School in District 206 in Chicago Heights. Through music, his students are learning lessons about teamwork, coordination, and perseverance.

“As I watch my students go from the very beginnings of learning a piece of music – and it sounds very raw rough and unrefined – and then we work on it for weeks and months and … we get to the performance moment and I can see in them how much they’ve grown,” he said.

“Mr. B” is in his fifth year with the district and shares his lifelong love of music with students like junior Evangeline Figaro, who nominated him for Teacher of the Month because he, “makes you feel like you’re a part of a family.”

“He teaches us like not only band stuff but like life lessons so that when we go out into the world we’re better people,” she said. “And he just wants us to do good.”

Figaro says Mr. B give students a real sense of belonging.

“You want to know they have a place. …  They really belong. They really belong there. And it’s band. You want to play? Let’s go,” Bielecki said.

Bloom’s band played at the Thanksgiving Day parade last year, but the pandemic put performances on pause.

With the district’s students and teachers working from home, Bielecki configured his garage to stay connected. Even though they’re apart right now, they’re still marching towards one goal.

“We’re going to keep working towards it because that’s what band does. We keep going. That’s what we do,” Bielecki said.

Bielecki  said he’s humbled by the honor and thankful for his students.

“It’s absolutely incredible and I’m very grateful,” he said.

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