Teacher Feature on Mr. Pritchard


Luka Konklin, Staff Writer

At what school in the district do you teach?

I teach 8th and 9th grade concert band at the Stroudsburg Junior High School. I am also the high school jazz band director and arrange the music for our marching band shows. I’ve been teaching in Stroudsburg for 20 years now.

What is your favorite sports team? Why are they your favorite?

My favorite teams are the San Francisco 49ers and the San Antonio Spurs. Growing up in Virginia I didn’t gravitate to the Washington D.C. teams for some reason, even though the now “Commanders” were a decent team then. Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Steve Young, etc., were popular at the time so I picked them and have stuck with them (except when they hired Chip Kelly). I also really liked David Robinson so I started following the Spurs too. I’m still a fan even though they haven’t been too good over the past few years. Mrs. Caiazzo, Jason & Sammy are all Eagles, Sixers, and Phillies fans….so I follow them closely too (especially if my teams aren’t doing well).

What is your favorite quote and what does it mean to you?

I’m going to give you two. One is from a Dave Matthews Band song called “Jimi Thing”. “What I want is what I’ve not got, and what I need is all around me.” It just reminds me that I don’t need all kinds of stuff to be happy or fulfilled. I really just need my family and what I’m fortunate enough to already have.

The other quote that I like and use on a daily/weekly basis is “Good…now do it again.” I use this constantly in my lessons to show students that getting something accurate once does not prove that they’ve mastered it. They might have just gotten lucky. So when we’ve been working on something that has been repeatedly incorrect and we finally get it right once…I’m not satisfied. I congratulate them on the small accomplishment, but then we do it a few more times in a row to make sure that the bad habit has been replaced by the good habit.

This may also be my favorite or most rewarding ongoing lesson with my students. This lesson starts their first week of 8th grade and, for some who are in the high school jazz band, continues until they graduate. It’s not a lesson that’s specific to band or music. It’s a life lesson that transfers to sports, academics, family etc. I mostly feel that I’m teaching life lessons through music. Hopefully the students are paying attention!

What is one important lesson you have learned as an educator?

An important lesson that I’ve learned is to be honest with my students. I am probably known for being brutally honest. I tell the kids when they’re great, but I also let them know if they aren’t…and then I explain how to improve. I don’t see the benefit in sugar coating things or lying to the students. Kids are smart. They see right through that…and I’m not a very good liar anyway. I hope that, even though they might now always like everything that I have to say, that they’ll learn to appreciate my honesty and know that whatever comes out of my mouth is the truth and comes from the heart. I believe that leads to a more positive student/teacher relationship as well.

What is your favorite thing to teach?

My favorite thing to teach is jazz. I’m a big fan of jazz and jazz band, but not just the traditional swing, Count Basie stuff. I love all of the various genres within jazz: Latin, rock, funk, and the blues. I love taking an arrangement of a piece of music and, with the help of the students, making it our own. I enjoy hearing the students progress on their instruments to the point that they come up with their own arrangements and improvised solos. It’s extremely rewarding and fun. Part of the experience is also talking to the students about music — all kinds of music, past and present. We’ve had some great conversations. Some of the bands I listen to now were first recommended to me by former students…and I’m sure some of the music that they listen to is influenced by me as well.