By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
“I was as surprised as anyone about this honor,” said Little Falls Community High School music teacher Jonathan LaFlamme, who was named the Music Teacher of the Week by Minnesota Public Radio (MPR).
Nominations for the honor came from Heartland Symphony Orchestra manager Fran Dosh.
“Jonathan is very talented and he encourages and inspires his students,” Dosh said. “We are fortunate to have him in Little Falls.”
Dosh works with LaFlamme when the Heartland Orchestra plays at the high school.
“We borrow percussion instruments from him and he, at times, lends us students to play when we need them,” she said. LaFlamme, because of his experience, helps judge youth concerto auditions for the orchestra when a student performs either with a wind or brass instrument.
LaFlamme said he doesn’t feel he stands out among his peers in the music teaching arena.
“The music educators I work with in the region are such great musicians. They push me to help kids get to the next level,” he said. “Erin Gohl and the Little Falls Elementary Schools, Ryan Tenold and the Little Falls Community Middle School and Lanny Anderson who teaches grades 4 – 8 at both Mary of Lourdes and St. Mary’s Elementary schools send me students who are excited about music. It’s great to start the year with kids who are happy to start learning.”
LaFlamme offers his students a plethora of ensembles to pique their interests. He has a brass quintet, a clarinet choir, two classical ensembles with 90 pieces, three jazz groups consisting of 86 musicians, a marching band and two pep bands.
“I want to make a difference in my student’s music; I want to help them accomplish something they didn’t think they could. I want my class to be confidence building,” he said.
LaFlamme began teaching in Little Falls in 2009. Before that, he was the music teacher in Pierz for five years.
LaFlamme is also a composer and has written several pieces. One of his most recent, “American Veteran,” he donated to the United States Marine Corps School of Music.
“When I performed the piece in St. Cloud, a Marine recruiter was there and was very appreciative of the donation. He arranged a delegation of five to come to Little Falls to accept ‘American Veteran,’” said LaFlamme. “One of those was Master Sgt. Richard Dengler, the director of one of five Marine Corps bands in the country (Quantico, Va.) and a recruiter for the USMC bands. He was so impressed, he stayed the day and directed my classes.” LaFlamme said it was a great experience for his students.
LaFlamme has published a National Anthem arrangement and written a Christmas piece called “Humility.” He has also done several jazz exercises, choir pieces and more.
LaFlamme will be featured on Classical Minnesota Public Radio Tuesday, March 25, at 7:15 a.m. and again at 7 p.m. The station may be found at 90.7 FM in Brainerd or 90.1 FM in St. Cloud.
“This is an award that Jonathan has truly earned through is passion, character and integrity in working with young people to encourage them to hit expected heights,” said Supt. Stephen Jones.
LaFlamme said, “I am humbled and so appreciative of Fran Dosh for my nomination. I am also honored to be working with the Little Falls students.”