Hero Teacher Finds A Way To Help Disabled Student Stay In Marching Band, Grab A Kleenex

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marching-band-drummerYesterday I wrote about a phone app being used for evil, and today I’m writing about an app — actually, 75 apps — being used for good. That’s how many different apps a Minnesota band teacher downloaded in her quest to find one that would allow a promising drummer with Spinal Muscular Atrophy to stay in the marching band.

KARE Minnesota reports high schooler Ethan Och‘s degenerative muscular disease had progressed to a point where he could no longer keep up with his fellow band mates. He met with his teacher and band director, Gina Christopherson, to let her know he planned to quit, but Mrs. Christopherson had other ideas. She immediately began searching for a way Ethan could still play with the band and found one in the form of a variety of drumming apps she downloaded to her phone:

“I don’t believe in ‘I can’t,'” says Mrs. Christopherson.

Today Ethan is back in the percussion section, drumming on an iPad hooked to an amplifier. Mrs. Christopherson got the idea from Ethan himself, the day she saw him playing with a drum app on his smartphone.

They figured out how Ethan could still play in the band, but that didn’t solve the problem of him being able to participate during marching season, so Christopherson returned to her drawing board yet again. She found a way to use a baby stroller and a car battery to carry and power Ethan’s amplifier so he could march with the band.

“He’s part of the team, you don’t leave somebody behind,” Mrs. Christopherson says.

Ethan’s parents know few band directors would go to such lengths.

“You have those people that see barriers when they look at things, and those who see doors,” says Stephanie Och, Ethan’s mom.

Christopherson told KARE it took some convincing before the Minnesota State High School League would allow Ethan to participate in marching competitions, but they eventually got permission and now he’s headed to New York City with his band to compete, thanks in part to generous donations that will cover the cost of 24-hour care during his travels.

It warms my heart to know there are so many people in this young man’s corner rooting for him. It seems as though his whole community is rallying around him, and you just don’t see that very often these days. I don’t know many teachers who would go to such lengths to ensure not only a student’s continued participation in an activity, but also their comfort and success.

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