#MNPSVoices: William Brooks, Band Director
As band director at Hunters Lane High School, William Brooks has become somewhat of a father figure to dozens of students. So much so, he is rarely addressed as “Mr. Brooks.”
“It’s rare to hear one of my band students call me Mr. Brooks – it’s always ‘Dad’ or ‘Pops’ or something to that effect,” he said. “It’s also ironic to hear students call me ‘Pops’ because that’s exactly how I referred to my high school band director.”
Brooks grew up in Detroit, Michigan where he discovered his gift of music. He pursued that gift and landed a band scholarship that brought him south to attend Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, and then to Middle Tennessee State University. He said he always knew he wanted to teach at an urban school.
“I went to a rougher high school where a lot of the people around me didn’t have opportunities to go to school,” Brooks said. “I was blessed enough to have a talent that got me a scholarship and the opportunity to see that the world is bigger than just the city of Detroit.”
With these experiences, Brooks has placed focus on teaching more than just music. He teaches life lessons.
“I try and instill in them [students] that life is going to throw you all kinds of obstacles and the most important thing you can do is to learn how to adapt to different situations.”
Brooks said he sees himself in the faces of so many of his students and understands where they are coming from and the circumstances they face.
“When I look at these kids and their situations, I can relate to them because I was that kid who didn’t have much growing up,” he said. “I was the kid who didn’t know a lot about the opportunities that were available for students to go to college.”
Brooks’ mission is to ensure his students know about the possibilities beyond high school. Since his arrival at Hunters Lane five years ago, today 100 percent of the school’s band graduates have received music scholarships at various universities and colleges across the country. Some of his first students are even about to graduate college – and at least one plans to be a teacher. He said he couldn’t be prouder.
“They went somewhere they may have never gone and it changed them for the better,” Brooks said. “I feel like my job is complete after that.”
Recently, the Hunters Lane High School band traveled to Brooks’ hometown of Detroit to march in the America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The band received an unexpected surprise learning they had won first place for ‘best band performance’ in a competition that they didn’t even know they were being judged.
Learn more about their first place win at http://www.newschannel5.com/news/local-band-wins-1st-place-in-thanksgiving-parade.
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