Weston Brabeck

Weston Brabeck of Marengo has been teaching for seven years and has been Guilford High School’s band teacher the past four years. He makes a difference throughout the city though, as Curriculum Implementation Leader for the music curriculum for Rockford high schools. You’ll also see him directing marching, pep and jazz bands, the musical pit orchestra and the district competitive marching band. Principal Gus Carter commended Brabeck for having taken a non-existent program (Guilford’s marching band program) to a district-recognized marching band. Additionally, he wrote that he “has a passion for helping students realize their own potential in the classroom.” In fact, one of those students nominated him. She wrote, “Mr. Brabeck is a dedicated teacher who makes class interesting. He wants his students to succeed and will help anyone that needs it. He spends all his time trying to make his students better or himself. I remember him helping me a lot in 7th-8th grade (when he wasn't my assigned teacher) on very difficult band pieces for the district competitive marching band. Later on in high school, he was actually my teacher. I was so excited. When I got something down, I was trying really hard on, he'd congratulate me for my persistence. This goes for every student of his. Mr. Brabeck cares about what he does. Which is shown every day in how he teaches.” But how does one teach band during a pandemic during which students may not be in your physical classroom? Brabeck wrote, “Teaching during the pandemic was difficult for many, but also provided an opportunity to reflect on how I can support students day in and day out without them being in a typical school environment.“ After much trial and error, he wound up with “five different screens, a smartboard, ring lights and four different camera angles” to best serve them. Brabeck works hard to provide diversity in his music program through music representative of different cultures or through diverse composers. His students notice. Students have said to him, “Mr. Brabeck, I was listening to more pieces by (so and so) and I found more composers like me”! Brabeck says, “Where they come from matters in my class.” So much so that when given the opportunity, he likes to learn from them in their languages. He has spoken Spanish, German and Polish phrases so far. Brabeck is also a huge proponent of collaboration. He collaborates with other directors, students, community members, parents and families to develop his craft and help his students through support, education and motivation. Brabeck is part of learning communities through social media sites from Facebook to TikTok and has been on fellow educators’ podcasts to talk about teaching. “Whenever I can find an opportunity to collaborate, I take it, because that is some of the best professional development an educator can get.” During class, he encourages reflection and feedback by his students. They also help set class expectations. He asks them to find “one thing to fix” and has them work on it. “This quick self-reflection has led to the students’ embracing the idea that improving in small increments does add up and help them reach their goals.” Visitors to Brabeck’s classroom observed his patience, giving one-on-one attention to every student and teaching several different levels at the same time. One observer commented, “He addressed musicality – not just playing the notes correctly.” Brabeck’s passion for teaching and music is clear. He says, “I just want students to be excited to play music and create an environment that is safe for them to play and collaborate with each other.”