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The Music, the Morale and the Motivation: Brockman’s Linnan Sings Richland One Praises

LinnanIn his laid-back manner, Johannes Linnan stirringly shares the stories of how he attended Brockman Elementary School as a child and has now returned to teach music. A chance meeting in the grocery store between his mother and one of his elementary teachers led to Linnan playing music at a graduation in Richland One. Though he knew he would teach music after graduating college in 2016, Linnan had no idea his music would steer him back to Brockman.

“While at graduation, I met with the former music teacher who told me she was moving to a new position in the district and introduced me to the principal,” said Linnan. “I applied and was happy to become part of the Richland One team.”

Linnan brought with him mastery level skills in nearly every classification of instruments including string, woodwind and percussion. He trained in guitar, piano and voice and is proficient in playing banjo, clarinet, flute, ukulele and violin.

His affinity for music started at six years old while attending Brockman, which provided him with various opportunities to engage with the arts. “We had choir, afterschool guitar classes and African drumming classes,” said Linnan. “It was really a fantastic experience.” 

It’s an experience he now tries to impart to his students.

“I have always enjoyed making music and sharing my knowledge with others,” said Linnan. “My music teachers also have had an immense impact on my life.”

The list of the names of those who influenced his musicality is vast and includes former voice, chorus, choir, piano and band teachers and professors. Linnan said the district has allowed for continued cultivation, providing unparalleled resources.

From hard-copy and online textbooks with a district pacing guide to direct the curriculum, to field experiences like Carnegie Hall concerts and the Nutcracker ballet, the opportunities for development abound, according to Linnan.

While all of these amenities contribute immensely to the learning process, Linnan said it is the staff – his colleagues – who provide invaluable support in ensuring the instruction and resources meld well enough to make a lasting impact.

He credits the school’s lead teachers and the Theatre Services Department with making learning enjoyable for educators, students and parents alike. Linnan said even Richland One Superintendent Dr. Craig Witherspoon joined in the fun one year, playing the saxophone with Brockman’s choir.

“I treasure the great collegial atmosphere of my school most,” said Linnan.

He says the leadership of Principal Sharonda Giles and Assistant Principal Victoria Garrick has “cultivated an atmosphere where we work together to create a safe and gently challenging place for the students to grow and become the young adolescents we know they can when they bridge to middle school.”

It’s not that they always agree, it is that they respect each other’s viewpoints, said Linnan.

“We really trust that whatever minute logistical details those rare disagreements may be about, all of us have the children’s best interests at heart, and we are coming from a respectful place of professionalism and care,” said Linnan. “We acknowledge each other's expertise and experience, and work together to find the best solution.”

It’s the same thing in the classroom. Linnan said every student brings their own experiences to the music room.

“Though I strive to be as aware as possible, I am certain that I may not even be entirely conscious of all the ways that working with my wonderful students has made me a better teacher, musician and person,” he added.