Music teacher Mark Morello directs Bristow Middle School choir.
Contra Costa County's Teacher of the Year Mark Morello will be the keynote speaker May 9 at the Seventh Annual Day of the Teacher Conference at Cal State East Bay's Concord Campus. A 14-year veteran music instructor at elementary and middle schools throughout the Bay Area, Morello teaches music appreciation, choir and band at William Bristow Middle School in Brentwood.
The Day of the Teacher, organized around the theme "Yes, We Can Shape the Future," is a daylong conference devoted to giving aspiring teachers an opportunity to explore the teaching profession. Highlights include workshops on the credential program, valuable first year teaching skills and insight from longtime educators. The event, which annually draws approximately 100 participants, also provides new teachers with an opportunity to network and sharpen skills when teaching in multilingual classrooms.
Nominated by his peers, Morello said he was honored to be chosen as the 2008-2009 Contra Costa Teacher of the Year, because it opened more doors for him to speak to students about music.
"Kids that aren't in my class recognize me and say, `Hi, Mr. Morello!' This gives me a chance to have a better rapport with non-students," he said.
Morello became a teacher because of his high school music teacher Mark Aubel, a 1986 CSUEB graduate.
"Watching him teach inspired me," Morello said. "He was very influential when I chose my college. I almost went to CSU East Bay because of him"
Morello is busy passing on his own inspiration through music. He often leads four performances per week by four different groups.
"I love getting kids excited about making great music and accomplishing something," he said. "I watch them move from "Gosh we have to play this?" when they first start, to "Oh my gosh, we sounded great!"
Morello travels with his music students throughout the country. One of his most memorable performances was at Carnegie Hall with the San Joaquin County Orchestra where he was asked to perform with his students.
"You spend so much time directing, to be able to play with my students at Carnegie was amazing," Morello said.
In his spare time, Morello plays trumpet with the Educators Band, a group of music teachers from Los Medanos College. Married for 10 years, Morello and his wife Holly, also a teacher, have a 2-year-old son, Giovanni.
"Every year we have someone like Mr. Morello at the conference," says Annie Nogales Chandler, CSUEB assistant director of enrollment development and Day of the Teacher coordinator. "There are many, many teachers like him, teachers that give hope, do a great job and influence (others)."
The conference will "provide students a window of what it's like to be a teacher," Nogales Chandler added.
The Seventh Annual Day of The Teacher is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. May 9 at Cal State East Bay's Concord Campus, 4700 Ygnacio Valley Road, in Concord. Register online at www.csueastbay.edu/concord/teacherday.htm.