Cody Newman says his daily calling is empowering students to be in the band program. “It is so important to give away the reins to our young leaders as they will soon be given the reins to determine the direction of their lives and the lives of their future families,” the director of band says. “What more important job do I have than to empower young people to rise to overcome the challenges they will encounter?”
The goal of the band leadership team at Forney High School is to create “a culture of unity through selflessness, positivity and encouragement,” Newman says. “When our students strive to accomplish these things, our music and performance goals are simply byproducts of their true success.”
In 2021, Forney High was in the news because Micah Diffee, a student in a wheelchair, wanted to join the band. “Micah is exceptionally capable and any issues he came across were solved by him and his friend around him,” Newman says. “There is, of course, the feel-good story about Micah, but what was much more important were the day-to-day operations that the rest of the students took part in with him. My hope is that the students who were Micah’s bandmates see people differently in the future. I hope that they won’t focus on perceived disabilities, but rather on the opportunities. It was a daily inspiration watching the students all working together.”
Inspiration and spreading positivity are reverberating themes in Newman’s program. After a great performance, instead of listing off all the accomplishments that the band has had, Newman decided this year to use that time to continue to spread the message that the Forney band directors teach daily. They recite Longfellow’s poem, “The Arrow and the Song,” which is about “the importance of words,” Newman explains. “Some words stick with you and hurt you like the arrow, while other words build you up and are carried in your heart like a song. This message is so important and helpful to the daily operations and culture within our program that I thought, why not continue to spread that message like wildflower seeds at each venue we participate in throughout the fall season.”
Newman knows that he lives a charmed life. “I have been so blessed to have been a part of several incredible teams of directors that molded and shaped me into the teacher I am today. I look at directors I get to work with daily and recognize that I get to do this with them. I look at these students and recognize that I get to do this with them. I look at my young family and beautiful wife and realize that I get to do this with them. The ‘them’ is very important to me.”
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