The RunDown

The RunDown

And the 2024 Teacher of the Year is…

Mr. Wilson
Mr. Wilson enjoying a beautiful day on River Dell’s campus

On March 28, 2024, the announcement of the Teacher of 2023-2024 school year hit the inboxes of all staff and students throughout the River Dell district. But our high school’s newest Teacher of the Year isn’t just any teacher; he’s the school’s music maestro, Mr. Wilson.

“Each spring an email goes out to the staff to nominate a colleague for Teacher of the Year. Nominations must include a brief description of why one believes this teacher deserves the recognition. Once that is submitted, a committee of teachers, administrators, parents, and board members meet to review the nominations. After discussion, it goes to a vote and the teacher of the year is chosen. The next day we present the teacher with flowers and share the news with the community,” Mr. Pepe explained.

In recent conversation, Mr. Wilson gave the details of his musical journey, starting in the 4th grade. First choir, then band on tenor sax, French horn, then trumpet in jazz band. He didn’t stop there. Mr. Wilson recalled, “We had a keyboard at home, and I taught myself how to read bass clef and essentially taught myself how to play the piano. When I was in high school, I finally said, ‘Dad, Mom can I please get piano lessons? They said ‘Ugh. Really?’ because they didn’t want to pay for it. But finally, they enrolled me in the preparatory program at the Eastman School of Music for piano for two years.”

Majoring in music education, Mr. Wilson received his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University in Rochester. Later, a full scholarship took him to grad school at Miami University of Ohio, where he earned a master’s degree in his life’s passion, vocal performance.

Although Mr. Wilson confessed that initially he didn’t want to study music education in college and rather, wanted to be a performer (singing opera), he moved back to his hometown of Rochester after graduating, where he taught high school music. However, still yearning for opportunities in performance, Mr. Wilson moved to New Jersey where he took a church job in Park Ridge and freelanced in New York City.

Mr. Wilson embarked on his career at River Dell nearly eight years ago directing both the choir and band program.

“It’s crazy and it’s a lot of work, but the students are worth working with and worth the craziness. They really are very good at what they do and a lot of them are really dedicated. It’s also fun to come in and have so many different students from different backgrounds…” Mr. Wilson continued.

In spite of these challenges, he strives to instill invaluable lessons of humbleness and versatility (in his students) that he himself attributes his success to. Earnestly Mr. Wilson stated, “If you’re an instrumentalist, get up on stage and be in a show. If you’re in a show, go backstage. Do as many different things as possible. Especially in this world that we live in, it’s good to have versatility.”

As Mr. Wilson continues to further his musical career outside of the classroom, composing music and creating his own instrumental album “No Words,” he treasures the honor of the Teacher of the Year award.

River Dell’s 2023-2024 Teacher of the Year, Mr. Wilson personifies passion, hard work, and humility as he continues to set a precedent for both his colleagues and future students.

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