The band program is back and booming with a new and vibrant energy. This energy comes from the recently hired band teacher, Mr. Ladarius Young.
Like all exceptional teachers, Mr. Young has a passion for what he is doing: teaching music. Mr. Young has always had an affinity for relaying beautiful sounds, rooting all the way back to when he was young. He expressed this, saying, “I’ve been into music from the time I learned to walk. I was very much a musical baby, to where I was singing at like five. I was involved with the church and different talent shows and whatnot, where I was always singing. Playing came in elementary school, when I found out about band instruments. It was like, ‘Sure, yeah.’ Music has always been a part of me and my family. I have a family full of singers.”
But what led this talent to Judah? Mr. Young believes God steered him toward this path.
As a relatively new teacher who had previously taught only as a substitute or student teacher, Mr. Young found that many hiring schools wanted a teacher with more experience. He applied to three other schools along with Judah, and they all turned him down for this reason. However, he didn’t let these rejections dissuade him. Rather, he leaned on his faith in God. In his words, “I didn’t really get discouraged, because I knew wherever I was supposed to be, I would be. In the process of seeing Judah, and seeing the office for the first time, I just felt the calling of God saying, ‘You’re supposed to be right here.’ So, I prayed about it, fasted about it, and, as history is being shown right now, I’m supposed to be here until God tells me to be somewhere else.”
Mr. Young also expressed the difference in environment between his former work experiences and his experience so far at Judah: “Because of our core values, it becomes this family environment where there’s a much closer relationship between teacher and student. It’s more than ‘I’m just your teacher,’ but I’m also your brother in Christ. If you’re going through something, I can definitely help you, or if I’m going through something, you could be someone that God uses to push me. It’s that type of environment. It’s definitely a closer, more family-knitted relationship than public school.”
As not only the latest addition to the staff but also a first-year teacher and a person of color, Mr. Young is eager and ready to take on new challenges and connect with his students. In various ways, Mr. Young can reach his students on a level that other teachers may not. He recognized and spoke toward this unique perspective, saying, “I do feel like I am, and I say this as humbly as I can, a refresher for some students. There are some things that I get and that I understand that some teachers may not be able to understand, especially with students of color. Coming from a minority perspective, I understand some cultural things better than some other teachers who may not have that cultural knowledge. I am already getting a bunch of students coming to me and confiding in me. I think it’s just that. I am a refresher for some of these students, and it’s refreshing being that representation.” Mr. Young’s humble attitude about this speaks volumes about the kind of teacher he will be and what impact he will have on the Judah community.
Finally, Mr. Young shared some of his goals and plans for what he wants to accomplish here at Judah. His main goal is focused around his position as band director and how he can aid his students. He said, “Because we haven’t had band for a whole year, I do desire it to be a place where those who are my students, those who are committed to music, will grow to be musicians. I’ll pour myself out to them, you know, teach them everything. I know how to help them become a musician, even if they don’t have a desire to follow a career path in that. I at least want them to feel inspired and to grow into more music depth than ever before.” Mr. Young’s plans for later in the year are still in the works with Mr. Moxley, but it’s safe to say that the students have something to look forward to. Mr. Young’s final remarks, after being asked what he would like to say to the students, encapsulated his mentality and perspective. He said, “The things you fall short on, God will back you up. Don’t be afraid to be imperfect. Just remember to trust God in everything you do.” This graceful, open-hearted outlook is sure to make Judah students grow, and Mr. Young is ready to grow with them. The band department has been waiting for an opportunity to return to the limelight, and Judah Christian School’s newest teacher is up for the challenge.
—Hannah Jackson, class of ’24