Switch to music proved to be sound decision for H-F teacher
BY GINGER BRASHINGER Correspondent May 23, 2012 11:48AM
Michael Rogers spent 24 years as department chairman of the music and visual arts division of the fine arts department at Homewood-Flossmoor High School, and plans to remain active in the community after his retirement. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 28, 2012 12:44PM
If Michael Rogers had allowed the conventional wisdom of his generation to rule his thinking as a young man, he would have followed a considerably different career path.
“I didn’t intend to go into music in college. I was in the Sputnik generation,” Rogers said, referring to the era of the “space race” that began with the Soviet Union sending a satellite into orbit. “We were all going to be in math or science.”
But Rogers gave it a second thought when the director of the music education department at Cornell College in Ohio asked him if math was what he really wanted to do.
Rogers thought, “No, it’s not.”
Rogers, who is retiring, now looks back on a long personal history of teaching — 49 years, he said, if he counts the preparatory program he participated in as a tutor beginning in his freshman year.
His last 24 years as department chairman of the music and visual arts division of the fine arts department at Homewood-Flossmoor High School have been among his happiest.
“It’s a great place to teach because the district and the community place such a high value on the arts,” Rogers said. “I’m choosing not to leave this community (in retirement) because of that.”
Rogers settled at H-F after a career as the director of development and director of the music and arts program at Flossmoor Community Church. He also taught at the college level, but he felt something was missing.
“I wasn’t sure what I wanted,” Rogers said. “I really liked working in the classroom with students and was looking for something in that area.”
When H-F needed a teacher for a single music class in 1988, Rogers applied for the job.
“That became two classes and then went to full time,” Rogers said.
Within five years, Rogers was named department chair, overseeing teachers and teaching kids.
“I really like the administrative aspects of teacher supervision and evaluation,” Rogers said. “For me it was a perfect fit because my master’s degree from the University of Chicago is in music composition, and my doctorate from Northwestern is in music education.”
His wish to be back in the classroom with kids was realized as well. Rogers teaches orchestra and an advanced placement music theory class.
“It’s a great time to be teaching kids,” Rogers said. “It’s a great age to be teaching because of the changes they go through.”
Rogers is looking forward to a full retirement of “any number of projects in photography, gardening and reading.”
He plans to travel, too, although he won’t be accompanied by a group of young symphonic band members with whom he’s become accustomed to taking on international tours over the last 20 years. Those times will be fond memories.
Rogers said he plans to remain active at the Flossmoor Community Church where he serves on various boards and committees and as a board member of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra.
Looking back over his career, Rogers is content with his “total commitment, day or night” that he said is something teachers just do.
“I don’t even think of it as a job,” Rogers said. “It becomes one’s life.”