Music takes on different meanings to different people, but there's one central idea that most can agree on: Music is a catalyst for creativity, learning, and emotion.

Rebecca Haag is the band director at Anchorage's West High School. She is also the fine arts department chair at West High, managing and interacting with students and staff on many levels. 

“I have the best job ever," said Haag. "We make music every single day and the kids are great. They have great attitudes and great personalities.”

Keiran, a student of Haag's and the band president, finds it easy to relate his band director because her passion for music and students truly shines. From novice to the top classical performing ensemble, Haag finds ways to connect with each student.

“She really nurtures the environment of band is a family," explained Keiran. "Which is something (most bands) say, but not all ensembles are like that. I really like that she fosters such a great ensemble, togetherness.”

It comes natural to Haag, who knew she wanted to be a band director since her sophomore year in high school. Nine years on the job, there's no place she'd rather be.

“I actually majored in piano, but I play flute, tuba, and bassoon as well, at a high school/collegiate level," said Haag. "I play everything else at a 6th grade level."

She has a deep understanding of music, hoping her students leave the classroom sharing her love and joy for the arts.

“I want them to takeaway a lifelong love of music," Haag explained. "I don’t want them to stop playing when they graduate. Whether that means playing in a community band... I know most of them aren’t going to go on and be music majors, but I want them to leave here with a love of music so they continue playing their instruments."

Beyond music, she's a mentor and a friend. Students appreciate Haag supporting them in the classroom, and lending an ear when working through difficult times and situations.

“I’ll have students who are depressed and they will come in and talk to me about what they need in their life that they’re not getting at home," Haag said. "I’ve had a couple (that) you talk off the cliff of suicide. Because that’s part of the job, making sure they’re healthy emotionally as well as able to learn.”

She also provides opportunity. Pablo, a foreign exchange student from Spain, says Haag made him feel right at home and has helped him become more confident in the American school system.

“I’m really proud of having people like this doing this kind of programs in the school," said Pablo. "It really helps, it really helps… somebody giving you opportunities. I’m really happy."

Rebecca Haag spreads joy through music. She sets the bar high for students, but also for herself.

“They work so hard, they want it," she proudly explained. "They want to sound good. They want to do well. All I have to do is put the polish on.”

She helps her students grow in life through music, enriching others through a message of joy. Congratulations to Rebecca Haag, KTVA's Head of the Class.

Do you know a fantastic educator? Nominate them for KTVA's Head of the Class.

Copyright 2018 KTVA. All rights reserved.

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