(Video above: #Grow334 highlights Amon Robinson, band director at Southlawn Middle School)
Amon Robinson is not your average middle school band director.
He is just 26 years old and a graduate of the famed Berklee College of Music.
Former Berklee students include Quincy Jones, arguably the most successful music producer in history (28 Grammys), John Mayer (7 Grammys and 3 Billboard No. 1 albums) and Steve Vai (the 10th “greatest guitarist” ever, according to Guitar World magazine), just to name a few.
He’s a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer who’s recorded his own music.
But what sets him apart the most is not his credentials, it’s his infectious desire to inspire his students at Montgomery’s Southlawn Middle School, even if that means sometimes taking a bit of an unorthodox approach.
Case in point, Mr. Robinson teamed up with artist Z Thealien Boswell to cover the school’s entire band room with graffiti, to the surprise of both the students and staff.
“That’s what graffiti is about — not asking,” laughs Mr. Boswell.
Mr. Robinson said he’s confident the new look will set the tone for the new school year.
“I feel like once they come in the room, they’re not going to want to leave,” he says, smiling. “I think they’re going to love it. It’s going to inspire kids to give me a chance on what I have to offer them.”
Mr. Robinson and his older brother paid for the paint out of their own pockets, the kind of expenditure that many classroom teachers have grown accustomed to, especially music teachers, whose budgets — or entire programs — are often the first to get cut when schools face funding shortages.
But they believe it will all be worth it.
“I look up to him,” says his older brother, Quan. “He’s probably never heard me say that, but he inspires me to be great.”
Asked what he thinks the school’s administration will think of their ask-forgiveness-rather-than-permission approach, Mr. Robinson says he’s optimistic they’ll appreciate his effort.
“I don’t think they’ll fire me if they don’t like it,” he laughs. “We can always just paint over it.”
Check out Grow 334’s feature on Mr. Robinson in the video above.