October 31, 2009 in Washington Voices

WV band director wins teacher of the year honors

By The Spokesman-Review
 
J. BART RAYNIAK photo

West Valley High School band director Jim Loucks counts cadence as the marching band practiced Aug. 25.
(Full-size photo)

West Valley High School band director Jim Loucks received a standing ovation from a room full of students, parents and teachers Wednesday when he was honored at the West Valley school board meeting for being named the regional Teacher of the Year by Educational Services District 101.

Loucks, who wore a tie and pinstriped suit for the occasion, gave thanks to God and his parents during a short speech peppered with humor. “My mom gave me the drive and determination, so you can blame her for that,” he said.

Loucks started his job with the district in 1992 and in fact interviewed for the position only hours after his father died. A professional musician, he moved his family here from Nashville to take the job. “Some of you students weren’t alive then,” he said. “I had no gray hair.

“It was probably the best thing that ever happened to me.”

There were only 17 band members when he began. Over the years he has built it into an award-winning band with about 75 members.

He was one of nine teachers from around the state to be selected as a regional Teacher of the Year. He many not have won top honors, but Loucks said he likes it that way. If he had won he would have to make a lot of public appearances around the state and would have to be away from the band he loves. “I get to have the most fun,” he said. “I get to sleep on gymnasium floors.”

Loucks said he doesn’t just see himself as a teacher. His mission is to have an impact on kids’ lives. “I absolutely love what I’m doing. I love these kids.”

Board member Debbie Hjortedal, whose daughter took band from Loucks for four years, had nothing but praise for him. “You give them your heart and soul,” she said.

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