EASTON, Conn. Watching the fourth grade chorus at Samuel Staples Elementary School mimic his dancing to "Twist and Shout" is Eric Dolecki's favorite experience so far as the school's newest music teacher.
"Their dance moves are very impressive," said Dolecki. "It's good for them to do movements associated with music." He teaches the students how to read music, how to listen carefully to music, how to write music and how to play recorders, ukulele and guitar.
"So many people love music. I try to be over the top with lots of energy and fun. I never liked lecture classes at any age I barely learned anything. Kids get their learning through movement and games and songs and dance. They learn more quickly and they learn it right," said Dolecki.
He came to Easton's elementary school straight out of Western Connecticut State University, where he studied music education. He teaches general music to kindergarten and grades one, two, three and five and chorus to grade four and runs the fifth grade band program.
Dolecki started playing the piano when he was 5. He picked up the saxophone in fourth grade and decided to become a music teacher when he was in high school. His favorite music is mostly classic rock including the Beatles and Billy Joel. He likes to use older rock from the '50s and '60s to teach students messages that are still strong today such as Aretha Franklin's "Respect."
While studying at Western Connecticut, Dolecki worked as a student teacher in New Milford, where he said he fell in love with elementary school. He was hired in Easton one week before school was to start and was relieved to get a few extra days to prepare when Irene came through.
"It's been smooth sailing so far," said Dolecki. "The satisfaction of watching a student figure out a problem and giving them the tools to solve it themselves, and watching them click they get it it's very satisfying and very cool to think I've got that power over somebody."
Dolecki was inspired by his middle school band teacher, who he said pushed him as a student. "He helped me to do better and go beyond what was expected of me. I took that and ran with it," said Dolecki.
The biggest challenge thus far has been remembering his students' names. He teaches 400 kids but keeps a roster with pictures next to names to help him out.
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