St. Rose Elementary teacher Tim Weller loves to teach children how to play the guitar.
After Hurricane Katrina destroyed the Lower Ninth Ward elementary school where he taught music for more than 10 years, Weller remained hopeful that he would get a second opportunity to teach music again. He rescued the few guitars that remained in tact and headed for St. Charles Parish.
Through a partnership between the parish public school district and the House of Blues in New Orleans, more than 100 students have performed at the rock café under his musical direction over the past three years.
“I first took kids to perform at the House of Blues in 2006,” Wells said. “So far, 125 kids have performed there from St. Charles Parish.”
Three years ago, Weller knew after looking at the flood-damaged school where he once taught that he wouldn’t be going back there to teach music anymore.
“I taught in a school in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans,” he said. “After Katrina, I went back there to see the damage and it was awful.”
Weller had just received his shipment of guitars to begin teaching students in the area to play when everything fell apart.
“In 2004, someone from the House of Blues asked me if I would be interested in teaching the guitar program and I was excited and ready to begin,” Weller said. “I had just gotten my shipment of guitars in on Aug. 24 and then Katrina hit and all but eight of them were completely destroyed.”
Weller was hired in October of 2005 to teach music and choir in the St. Charles Parish school system. As an added bonus, he still got the chance to take part in the guitar program, which is partially sponsored by the House of Blues.
“This year, I have 94 students participating in the guitar program,” he said.
In April of 2006, Weller received the “Action for the Arts Award.” Music cable channel VH-1 then purchased several guitars for Weller’s program.
“This award is to acknowledge an individual in the community who has taken action to bring arts programs and learning experiences to youth and to have been instrumental in increasing interest and participation in the arts,” Weller said. “I think music is such a vital part of the learning process for children. In my experience, kids that participate in music programs make better grades in school.”