INTERVIEW: Richmond Teacher of the Year, Gregory L. McCallum

By Ryan Nobles - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan – email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It is one of the most important jobs in the world and in the City of Richmond, no one does it better than our next guest.

Gregory L. McCallum was named the "Teacher of the Year" by the city school district. McCallum joined First at Four to talk about the honor.

RYAN: As I said that, you kind of laughed a little. You're probably still getting used to the idea of being name the teacher of the year?


RYAN: But we'll introduce our audience to you a little bit. You're a music teacher, band director and you have the music scales on your tie. You've been teaching at Richmond Community School for 11 years. What it did mean to you to receive this honor?

GREGORY L. MCCALLUM: It was validation because I'm an educator first and not a band director. You don't go to school to major in band director or orchestra director. You go to school to major in education and my focus was music so it meant that people recognized what I did and I thank the committee for all their hard work.

RYAN: It's no secret and you're on the front lines, that the city school district has a lot of challenges. As somebody on the front lines, how do you overcome those challenges and engage your students to get them excited about music?

GREGORY L. MCCALLUM: First of all, you stop listening to what everybody is saying because if you do that, you're defeated before you start. I know at Community, what we do is, you know, we come into the building, we understand what we have to do and we focus on the task at hand, and we just do it. You get the student buy in to the idea that this is your education, make something out of it. And it works.

RYAN: I was struck by one of the stories from one of your former students who is now a music teacher himself and he said that you inspired him to get into the profession. How does that make you feel, that he's now doing what you're doing at a different level?

GREGORY L. MCCALLUM: Its great and it's a young a lady…started her in fourth grade and had her almost all the way through, and it's great, inspiring because I think every teacher would like to have someone that they knew from early on to say they followed in your footsteps and got into the profession.

RYAN: And what -- obviously music is one of these subject areas where kids get it after a certain point?


RYAN: What is it to see in a young child's eyes when they finally get the instrument that they're working on?

GREGORY L. MCCALLUM: The light bulb goes off and they realize after all that hard work and struggling for weeks and weeks, and all of a sudden, 'I got it,' and you can't take it away them. They don't want to put it down and once you got them hooked, you can do anything with them.

RYAN: And it's always practice, practice, practice. Is that the hardest thing, trying to get kids to practice on a regular basis?

GREGORY L. MCCALLUM: Yes, understanding that if I'm going to be dedicated to my craft, I have to do this, but once they start, the more they do it, the better they become and the better they become, the more they do it.

RYAN: Thank you so much and thanks for your service to the City of Richmond schools.


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