The EPISD Q&A: Tyler Simon, Franklin High School associate band director
(El Paso Independent School District -- Aug. 12, 2020) — The EPISD Q&A gives us an insight into the students, teachers and stakeholders of the District – the people who make it run and thrive. In this edition of the EPISD Q&A we speak with Tyler Simon, Franklin High School’s new associate band director.
Simon is new to EPISD but already has four years of teaching experience under his belt. The Texas Tech University graduate (he earned double degrees in music education and music performance with a concentration in euphonium, his instrument of choice) previously taught at Clear Creek High School near Houston. Community Engagement got a chance to virtually meet Simon and talk to him about his teaching and plans to overcome the challenges of remote teaching.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: What made you want to become a teacher?
TYLER SIMON: During my high school career, I learned essential life skills in band. I appreciate how much learning these skills set me up for college and the rest of my teaching career. I hope through teaching, that I do the same for students.
CE: What made you choose Franklin?
TS: I wanted to come to Franklin because of the community. My wife is from El Paso and she is actually an alumni of Franklin. Every time we would visit, I was genuinely surprised at how friendly and genuine the people of El Paso were and are to this day. My thought was, if this is how the community functions then something big must be getting taught at the schools. And from meeting other EPISD employees and the staff members at Franklin, I can assure you that is the case. The students are not only getting the finest education possible, they are learning the life skills they need to be a productive and positive member of society. I am quite proud to say that I am one of those teachers.
CE: What are your expectations for this unprecedented school year?
TS: Believe it or not, my expectations have not really changed. I truly believe that a healthy and productive classroom requires trust from both the teacher and the students. From Day 1 my job is to build a relationship with each student and then I will “tap” into that trust again to create a healthy and productive “online classroom”. At the end of the day all I ask is that the students trust that I am trying my hardest to give them the best educational experience possible.
CE: What have you done to prepare for teaching digitally?
TS: This breaks into two categories for me. The first category is hardware. I have spent a lot of money at Best Buy and probably annoyed every employee in the store. I have two monitors, plus my Macbook Pro, wireless keyboard, a docking station for the devices, Bose headphones, and a USB microphone for better quality voice. The second category is logistical, what platforms am I going to use to reach the students and how familiar am I with them? I have spent quite a bit of time on Zoom. We will be using Zoom in the band world to hear students play instrument because Zoom has the best audio settings that you can manipulate very easily.
CE: What do you want your parents and students to know as they begin school year?
TS: I want all of my parents and students to know that we as an educational community are working our hardest to make the best of this experience. We are here for our Franklin families in any capacity they need us.
CE: How will band change for students this year?
TS: The better question is, how hasn’t it changed? In all seriousness, band has done a complete 180. Besides the obvious of playing over a computer. Band students have lost their community. They have lost their ability to make music with their peers in person. This breaks my heart and we as a band staff are trying to replicate a practice that will bring back this joy.
CE: What do you hope to do to maintain a little normalcy for students?
TS: We are trying to maintain normalcy by having students answer questions and playing their instruments for us. I always do icebreakers and listen to music to start off any class.
CE: Anything you would like to add?
TS: I’m really proud of every teacher in EPISD. All teachers have had to change their approach to education drastically and my heart is full knowing that we are doing the best we can!