Making musicPublished 11:21am Wednesday, November 20, 2013
“Make music, not noise,” Everett Jacobson tells a roomful of first graders Tuesday morning at Adams Elementary School.
Jacobson has the students working with a type of glockenspiel that is color-coded to make it easier for the kids. He counts them down and plays a few notes on the piano before the kids launch into it.
While obviously not experts, most of the kids manage to stay close to the melody and seem to be enjoying themselves.
For 37 years, Jacobson has been teaching music to students of all ages. Judging by the recognition he just received from his peers, he’s been very successful at getting those students to make music rather than noise.
Jacobson was honored by the Fergus Falls Education Association with its Teacher of the Year award. A music teacher who is working exclusively with first and second graders this year, Jacobson said he feels humbled to receive this kind of recognition from his peers.
“I hear it from teachers that they appreciate me and all that, but I know that here,” Jacobson said. “This is a really good building. But to have it formalize like that is a really big honor.”
Jacobson was one of five finalists for the award and found out he was chosen at a Wednesday afternoon celebration at Kennedy Secondary School last week. Jacobson’s wife had known for a few days beforehand, but managed to keep the secret from her husband.
School Superintendent Jerry Ness said the honor was well-deserved.
“Everett’s just an outstanding educator,” he said. “The fun he has and what he teaches the kids is just a joy to watch.”
Fun is indeed part of Jacobson’s lesson plans. Because music does not seem as essential to many children as mathematics or reading, Jacobson said it is imperative to make class enjoyable.
To do this, he incorporates games and activities into his classes. But Jacobson also knows he can’t let the students get too silly in class, so there is a limit to the fun.
Randy Hansen, the co-president of FFEA and a teacher at KSS, heard nothing but good things from Jacobson’s co-workers at Adams.
“He’s just so interactive with the kids,” Hansen said. “You can hear the kids just laughing and having a good time.”
Although music classes are often some of the first victims of budget cuts, Jacobson has never worried for his position. He believes the arts are a high priority at Fergus Falls schools, and his selection as Teacher of the Year seems to support that belief.
As outgoing as he appears in the classroom, Jacobson is somewhat uncomfortable talking about himself.
Nominations are made anonymously, Hansen said, and some teachers shy away from accepting their nominations. Jacobson considered withdrawing from consideration for the award, but ultimately decided that would be an insult to the person who nominated him.
“Mr. Ness prefaced the whole thing the other night by saying, ‘We live in a town of all these humble Norwegians,’” Jacobson said. “I have trouble being in the limelight.”
But helping a roomful of young students make music and not noise, Jacobson feels right at home.