For many students, that arts and extra curricular activities are what keep them interested in school. Byrd High School's Band Director, James Willett, has taken his responsibility to teach and engage seriously.
"My son is a sophomore. We've been here, this is our second year, and to watch what he's done with these kids is just amazing. He gives 110%, and as long as they give even half that he works beyond recognition to get them where they need to be," said the Band Booster President, Shelley Purdy.
Willett has 14 years of teaching experience, but this is only the start of his 3rd year at Byrd. In just a few short years he has doubled the size of the school's marching band. He often comes in for practices and competitions before and after school and sometimes on the weekends to make sure his band is successful. Parents also admire that beyond the band as a whole, he shows dedication to each of his students as an individual.
"He's like their friend, but a mentor at the same time. He does everything he can for them
Willett says he first went to college to be an architect, but when he got there he couldn't shake his passion for music.
"Once I got to college and got to be in the marching band at a big university compared to my small high school, and I just got real involved in the music and decided, you know, this is what I want to do with the rest of my life," he said.
It's that passion for music and his students that helps him make such a big impact in their lives.
Willett won the weekly Golden Apple Award for teaching excellence. The award comes with a $500 prize from the Kirby Kelly Law Firm.
To nominate an Ark-La-Tex educator to win the award, click here to fill out the form.