Jimmy Lee Day II has made history by becoming the first Black male teacher to hold the title of Colorado’s Teacher of the Year. Day was recognized during a surprise ceremony at his school last October, and he will hold the title for the rest of this year.
Jimmy Lee Day II is a band director and instrumental music teacher at East Middle School in Aurora Public Schools. During his 13 years as an educator, he has rebuilt three band programs, transforming them into award-winning programs that have earned superior rating scores from district music festivals.
In an interview with a local news outlet, Day shared that the keys to his transformative teaching have been connection and consistency. “From classroom management to how I rehearse my students to how I want my expectations, it’s consistent, it doesn’t change, it’s unbending, and then my connection – me making myself human just like you and we make connections,” he said.
As Teacher of the Year, Day will represent the entire teaching profession in Colorado and be the public face of Colorado’s teachers. He will also become a member of the Colorado Education Commissioner’s Teacher Cabinet and will be Colorado’s nominee for the National Teacher of the Year Program competition.
“We are incredibly proud of the impact Mr. Jimmy Day has made and continues to make each day at East Middle School. He pairs his passion for music with his ability to connect with students and help them achieve their highest potential,” said Aurora Public School Superintendent Rico Munn in a statement. “It’s very clear that what he is instilling in them, what he’s teaching, goes beyond music.”
Jimmy Day said he will continue to emphasize the importance of music for his students this year and beyond. “We all have to be open to the reality that not all of our students are going to become professional musicians, but the fact that we can give them that foundation and have them understand that there is so much more to life than just academics,” said Day. “Music is the window to the soul, and I hope to give them that window so they can be successful in life.”
Day’s achievement sends a powerful message about the importance of representation and diversity in education. When teachers of color are recognized for their excellence in teaching, it can also inspire other teachers of color to pursue leadership roles and help break down barriers that may prevent them from advancing in their careers. However, it’s important to note that Jimmy Day’s success is based on his hard work, dedication, and expertise as an educator. As he continues to inspire and make an impact in the lives of his students, he serves as a shining example of what can be achieved through effective teaching.