Bright Spots

Supporting Innovative Approaches to Education

All across Santa Cruz county (and beyond) there are innovative things happening in classrooms. The purpose of Bright Spots is to highlight and celebrate those fabulous sparks to use as inspiration for what could be.

Bobby Marchessault

Grade / Subject: K-8 Music

Site: Watsonville Charter School of the Arts

Years Teaching: 2

Nominated For: He cares so much for his community and all the people in it. He took on a teaching job at WCSA as a K-8 music teacher and mainly taught K-5 last year. Last year he had an office space but and he didn't have a classroom he could call his own. This year, the school's principal purchased a used portable from SCCS and the district loaned WCSA part of the install costs for Bobby to take on the challenge of creating his own space. He has accepted that challenge.

"What I'm learning and being reminded of lately is that if I have fun, the students are more likely to engage with the material. Sounds pretty basic, but with a tough few years it's been an important reminder to me to find joy in the process and with the students. "

Sometimes you step onto a school campus and you just feel joy. Walking on the dusty path up to Watsonville Charter School of the Arts gave me that feeling. Everywhere you look there are art installations, colors, and smiling faces. Bobby’s room is no exception.

Bobby started working at WCSA last year as the K-8 music teacher, but 2022-2023 is his first year with his own designated space. He has filled the room with instruments and rainbow hues. Nominated for his commitment to the community, Bobby is deserving of this recognition. He says that he enjoys teaching music because there are so many other life lessons and skills that are interwoven with the subject.

Here’s his bright spots story.

Tell me about a recent success you’ve had in your classroom, or something that’s working well for you right now.

At the end of the 2021-2022 school year, we put together a musical that every K-2 student performed in. It was a kids’ version of the Lion King from Musical Theater International. We cast 1st and 2nd graders in the leads, and each class had a featured song. The kids wore costumes, played drums, danced, all on an outdoor stage and set at the school. They pulled off more than I imagined, with our leads memorizing all their lines and being individually miked.

I was reminded how much younger students can accomplish when invited to. I couldn't have done it without a great group of grade level teachers all pitching in to create beautiful art.

Now I get to have my own classroom this year, as opposed to last year when I was pushing a cart into rooms. That is definitely working well for me and opens up so many more possibilities for music and theater.

Do you have a favorite lesson or unit that you teach every year?

One of my favorite things to teach in after school programs over the past 10 years was improv comedy. This week I start a rotating unit of improv with our third-fifth graders and I'm very excited about that. I also love teaching our ukulele unit to our 4th graders. I am also super excited to teach bucket drumming for the first time to our middle schoolers, made possible by the donation of 50 paint buckets from our Watsonville ACE Hardware stores.

What is your favorite way to integrate technology into your classroom?

I use technology quite a bit as our curriculum is Quaver Music which is technology based. I particularly like using technology with the older students who are able to engage with learning about electronic music and loops.

Incredibox is a really fun app that students enjoy creating their own music on, with loops that they can overlay. Another thing I really enjoy all of the valuable and really fun resources on YouTube for playing along with Boomwhackers. Students are always engaged, especially if it's a song from Enconto.

What advice would you give to other teachers?

What I'm learning and being reminded of lately is that if I have fun, the students are more likely to engage with the material. Sounds pretty basic, but with a tough few years it's been an important reminder to me to find joy in the process and with the students. That, and people will often rise to the level of our expectations, and it's especially true with elementary through high school students. I am often reminded they can accomplish so much if I give them the opportunity and don't limit them.

Do you have a go-to curriculum or inspiration source? Where do you get inspiration from?

I think other great colleagues inspire me. I have friends all over the country teaching music and I take any opportunity to connect with them and learn from what they are learning. I love that the familiarity we now have with platforms like Zoom makes that so much easier. I also love watching videos of PS22's 5th grade choir from New York City. They do some great songs and I'm always inspired with their song choices and ideas to build on what we could do here.

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<< Check out this amazing sensory path on Bobby's campus featuring different artistic styles!

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For more information, please feel free to contact:
Stephanie SumarnaEdTech & Innovation