HUGHESTOWN — For teachers Justin Roote, Eric Sperazza and Jennifer Sperazza it was just another day at the office.
Students at Pittston Area Middle School, however, got to see their teachers in a different way.
The three teachers performed a series of mini concerts for each grade at the middle school and talked about what got them playing music.
Principal Patrick Bilbow said it was a way to recognize Music in Our Schools Month, which is the time of year in March when music education becomes the focus of schools across the nation.
“I wanted to think outside the box with this because I knew I had people in these positions in the school, as far as music and musicians go, that would do an excellent job,” he said. “In thinking about March and it being Music in Our Schools Month, we started discussing this in February, Mr. Sperazza and I, and I told him my ideas and my thoughts knowing the talent that I had in the school and I thought it would be relevant to the kids they heard each one of their students, but see the teachers perform.”
Eric said having the opportunity to not only perform for the middle school students, but also explain what got them into music, was a very rewarding experience.
“Normally when they see us in a classroom setting, we’re just standing up and talking,” Eric said. “They get to see us in a different light.”
All three teachers contributed to singing while Roote played guitar, Jennifer the drums and Eric the keyboard.
The trio rehearsed on Monday and played the songs “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” by Bon Jovi; “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele; “3 a.m.” by Matchbox Twenty; “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison and “I Love Rock and Roll” by Joan Jett.
Each song had a significance to why the teachers chose to play it.
“(Eric and I) play in a band together along with two other family members and four of those songs we play in the band and we chose them because they are more modern and recognizable to the kids,” Jennifer said. “Then Justin chose his song that he wanted to perform based on something more modern and something we could learn.”
Roote chose to play, and sing, the song “3 a.m.” because it took him back to his high school days.
“I had a band in high school and through college and we did gigs occasionally,” he said. “That was one of the songs that we would play almost all the time. It was one that we did a lot and I remember from that time, and I thought the kids would recognize it, too.”
Jennifer began learning to play drums 10 years ago when she met Eric and the two of them are part of the local band The Sperazza Band, which also consists of Eric’s dad, Mike, and his cousin, Michael.
It was Eric’s dad that got him into playing music.
“As a kid I got to go to all of the picnics and bazaars and see him play,” he said. “I fell into that and he saw that spark and got me started on piano and guitar lessons, and it just snowballed from there.”
Students learned that Roote started playing saxophone in the fifth grade and performed in his middle school and high school bands.
He earned a degree in music education from Marywood University and then attended Texas A&M for two years, where he got the chance to do some traveling with the choir.
Roote is in his first year as the middle school band director, while Eric has been teaching music appreciation since 2003 and Jennifer has been teaching sixth grade special education since 2007.
After the performance, the teachers wondered what their relationships with their students would be moving forward.
“It’ll be interesting to see what they thought about it when we talk to them later,” said Roote.
Bilbow said it will not be easy to top this year if they do something similar next year.
“We may be able to get more of a collective group to see if there are others on staff that would like to be a part of it,” said Bilbow. “This will be difficult to top. I’m a big U2 fan, so maybe we could line (U2 lead singer) Bono up.”
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher