The Stephen F. Austin A Cappella Choir, 1965, was my most excelled. The problem was due to the close relationship my difficult. It was loaded with fine young voices and afforded me with the most honor members of both Regional and All-State choirs. In spite of my failure to maintain control, the students family had with so many of theirs. It was difficult for the students to separate “Jim”, the friend and “Mr Austin”, the choral director, but that never had a negative effect at performance. Our original rehearsal room in the basement simply was unsafe, so we ‘borrowed’ Jack Briggs’ band room for my choral classes. It was large enough to provide chairs for both groups as well as my choir risers. And, the acoustics were much better, good enough for us to record our 1962-63 “Memories” album.
It taught me a lesson about relationships. I do not blame the students for not understanding the difference, but it cooled my social decisions. This was the year I was threatened with a filing of insubordination. Some of the girls were voice students of two ladies who were supposedly good friends of mine. All went well until I suggested that a placement of voice for choir was a bit different than that of solo placement. It got back to the voice teacher that I had criticized her. Not so, but since she lived next door to our Superintendent of Schools, an over the fence conversation resulted in me being summoned to the office for reprimand. That didn’t go as planned and the results were not pleasant. It was the beginning of my time when teaching in Bryan didn’t have the same warm fuzzie feeling of before. Nothing I could do was quite up to BPS standards. I determined to complete my tenure until my eldest daughter graduated. To have continued on would have not been good for anyone, so in 1971, I gave notice. I have regretted doing so, many times. I was in conflict. I couldn’t remain a public school teacher because I couldn’t tell the difference between cooperation and ‘brown-nosing’. I believe that unfortunate situation continues to exist in many districts, today.
So, now you know just how the “apple” lost its luster for me, but I do have the greatest respect for teachers who have continued to fight upstream for the good of their students, I just gave up. I do not fault anyone, so let’s not go there. I am the captain of my fate on this. Had I been closer to My Lord Jesus Christ, I would have made retirement in a classroom. (I do enjoy listening to the one in ’63, the UIL contest recording of my ’65 choir, as well as the one made at Central Baptist Church, performing John Peterson’s “Night of Miracles”).
In retrospect, every evening performance over all those years were just that! A night of Miracles. And, that’s what I get from MY box of chocolates. AMEN