Under Eric Gueniot’s leadership, Hahnville High School’s band and color guard have taken high honors, and now Gueniot is being recognized as the American Legion’s Educator of the Year.
“Watching the children succeed is one of the reasons I do this job,” Gueniot said. “We never teach winning or use getting a reward as our motivation, we teach the kids to be good people and to do their best and we find continuously that good results follow.”
Recognized by American Legion Post 131, Gueniot is in his 27th year teaching. Eight of those years have been at HHS where he taught band, percussion and color guard.
Being selected was very humbling, and just being nominated was an honor, he said. The recognition came as a complete surprise, Gueniot added, and particularly with so many deserving nominees.
“Being the band director at Hahnville is great job and a position that carries with it a lot of history,” he said. “Some great people have been director at this school before me and some of the leading members of the St. Charles community were members of this band.”
Under his leadership and the assistance of Michael Danigole, the band has won the sweepstakes at the district festival and advanced to state competition. The color guard has won the championship at the Winter Guard competition, and as result Gueniot was named district Band Director of the Year.
Gueniot’s recognitions include being recognized in NSU graduate exit surveys where students named him regularly as a great teacher in music and in service courses.
He’s also been selected Teacher of the Month multiple times, as well as is a three-time Teacher of the Year finalist, and has been chosen as a guest conductor of several honor bands.
“Perhaps my proudest achievement was being selected as Band Director of the Year for Louisiana Music Educators Association District VII,” Gueniot said. “This was an honor bestowed upon me by my peers in the teaching profession.”
He’s also a member of Phi Beta Mu, a band directing fraternity where members are nominated and selected. He’s been a performing member of the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra for 25 years.
“At each level, I know I learned as much from teaching as my students learned from me and at each stop I believe I left the program improved from where I inherited it.”
“At each level, I know I learned as much from teaching as my students learned from me, and at each stop I believe I left the program improved from where I inherited it.” — Eric Gueniot
At HHS, band students participate in community events, including two parades each year and smaller groups of students involved in community performances and soloists traveling for events.
“I believe that my students need to know the importance of sharing their talents and giving their time,” Gueniot said. “My classroom door is always open to visitors and, often times, our special needs students are brought in to enjoy the music.”
He added the American Legion award is important because the organization is important, working not only to support veterans, but also their communities.
“Band directing allowed me to spend my life involved in my two favorite activities, school and music,” Gueniot said. “I tell my kids that I joined band when I was 10 years old and I’m still in it.”