Who: Laura Mazziotti, music teacher and 6th-Grade Band director, White Plains Middle School/Eastview Campus
Since when: She has taught at Eastview or the Highlands School in White Plains since 1991.
What’s new: Eastview became a 6th-grade only school this year, with 7th- and 8th-graders going to the Highlands Campus of White Plains Middle School. So Mazziotti, who until last year directed a 6th-8th grade band, has had to build a 6th-grade only band this year.
Why she does it: “I love middle school because the kids are old enough to reason but young enough to change. I feel like I can make a difference with kids at this age level. They’re open to learning and able to focus—before the hormones kick in. I was a little worried about not having them for three years, that I would have some sense of loss. But I’m fitting everything into a condensed curriculum. I’m focusing on the most important lessons and the students are really responding.”
Hard-earned wisdom: “My teaching is above love. I love the students, so in return they love me. That’s how I view this work. I see the potential in them—when they don’t always see it in themselves. If you can hook them and make them believe, they’ll do anything for you. This is my way of changing the world. It’s a beautiful way of reaching people and being able to bring joy into students’ lives. In this time of great testing, we cannot lose sight that we are molding and shaping lives. And music can mold and shape the brain.”
Books she recommends: “Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire” by Rafe Esquith; “The Genius in All of Us” by David Shenk; and “7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens” by Sean Covey.
She also recommends Smartmusic.com and watching great musicians on Youtube.