Students at Glee's fictional McKinley High might have Will Schuester, but the kids at Haworth Public School have Michael Conti.
"The voice is a beautiful and amazing instrument," Conti says, "but it takes a lot of training to get the sound you desire."
Conti, who earned a doctorate in music from Michigan State University in 2005, is in his sixth year teaching music at Haworth Public School. What makes Conti's job as a music teacher so satisfying is that he teaches students how to write music as well as to listen to it, perform it and analyze it critically. The compositions are recorded so that students can listen to them in iTunes.
"I enjoy being able to share my love and appreciation of music with kids and to get them fired up about how much fun music can be," Conti says.
Besides teaching general music, Conti also raises the children's voices in song, directing the middle school choir, which rehearses during lunch. He also runs the school's select choir, women's choir and men's choir, which are extracurricular. Sing, sing, sing. The four choirs compete every year at the Music in the Parks competition held at Six Flags Great Adventure, which gives them a taste for performing under pressure in public.
Conti hopes to inspire his students to join choir in high school and sing in college.
"Once they get to high school, kids don't have to take music anymore," Conti says. "I feel it is my job to instill a passion for music within them that they will carry for the rest of their lives."
And inspire he did. When deep budget cuts threatened his position at the school, families rallied to raise money to cover his salary. Will Schuester would be proud.