Jonathan Chesson


Jonathan Chesson

School & School System Where You Work

Freedom High School, Burke County Schools

Number of Years Teaching


Teaching Area(s)


Grade Level

High School

What do you love most about teaching music?

I love the opportunity to bring a passion for music and life to my students. Even though times change around teenagers, those teens most often stay the same year to year. I enjoy being able to bring to them my passion for teaching music in an ever changing world. I love seeing them grow up right in front of my eyes. Through teaching music, I am able to provide a positive influence in these most important years before adulthood.

Who inspired you to be a music educator and how did they inspire you?

There are several influences I have had in being inspired to be a music educator. First, there was Paul Freeman, my Middle School Band Director, who made sure each one of us felt included and were important to teach. Next was Barry Hearn at West Davidson High School, who motivated and treated us as young adults with a lot of love and care through our growing pains of being teens in band. This then led to Dr. John Ross at Appalachian State, who showed me to what hard work looked like, and then Mark Robertson when I assumed the helm at Person High School. And lastly I have to recognize the students that I am fortunate enough to see each day and those I have made contact with over these past 15 years.

What did you need the most when you started teaching?

TIME!! I needed time to set-up, create, organize, read, study, make mistakes, and grow. I needed relationships with colleagues in and out of the music department that made the day much more fun and less draining. Our little stand-alone building at East Surry was so enjoyable because of the connections I was able to make with the drafting, ROTC, agriculture, and shop teachers. Our PLC would have been the “Professional Laughing Community.” I needed that….I still need that.

Describe the biggest challenge to teaching music education and how you have worked to overcome this challenge?

Change. Change in schools and the culture created by new administrations or communities either by my choosing to pursue another opportunity or the school I was invested in changing their direction. Times are different and some would argue that they are harder. I see that. But time is inevitable and not immune to change. Understanding this inevitability has allowed me to prepare more and to see things from multiple vantage points of possibility rather than probability.

How do you advocate for your program?

This may sound backwards but I feel as if I do not. I do in the sense that I promote our kids and what they are doing. But in my experience I have not had to do the advocating. The parents, students, and community have all taken those on so I can focus on the important group…their students. I have often wondered what my answer would be to this question and this is the most honest answer I can give. If I promote a positive, inclusive, nurturing, respectful, caring, passionate, and loving band program – where kids can be themselves and grow into young adults through their experiences in my class – then my promoting them and this idea will be advocated by those who were, are, and soon to be a part of our family.

What is one piece of advice you would give to beginning teachers?

Take your time. Embrace change and being open-minded. Reach out to that quality director you think is unreachable. Give yourself grace and patience. Invest in who you are doing this for and not what you are doing it for. Teaching, mentoring, leading, loving is sacrifice. Sorry it was more than one but they are all combined. 🙂

How do you build relationships with students and parents?

I am myself. There is no on/off switch for who I am. I do not try to hide who I am or what I stand for. My students know my values, they know I care about them and their neighbor. My parents know this as well. As a husband, parent, son, brother, and all of the other things one could insert, I understand family…and that is the feeling felt when our band family comes together. My relationship with God allows me to be able to share what I get from Him. And a wife who is really forgiving during those long seasons where she barely sees me! 🙂