Teachers of Connecticut, a website “created, funded, and facilitated by Dalio Education” provides a voice for state educators. The latest feature focuses on Bridgeport native Troy Williams who brings a unique perspective as band director for Wilton Public Schools, a black instructor in a predominately white district.
If I can bring bands in I’d love to have Bridgeport kids visit and be that bridge. My Wilton students are so curious about what’s going on in the city; Bridgeport kids are curious about the suburbs. I would love to do that.
From Teachers of Connecticut:
Troy Williams is the kind of teacher whose students can ask him anything. And as the director of bands for Wilton Public Schools, Williams knew his students would have questions on day one. He’s been a teacher for a decade and happens to be a youthful looking Black man with a piercing in each ear lobe.
Williams grew up in Bridgeport, which is less than 25 minutes away from Wilton. Though both cities are in Fairfield County, he said they might as well be on different planets. Or at least that’s what he anticipated that his students might think.
As they stared wide-eyed at him during the first day of school four years ago, he told them: “Ask me all the questions you want to ask.”
“I’d rather they hear it from me and get rid of any negative stereotypes,” he added.
The students didn’t disappoint. Had he been in a gang? No. Have you ever shot anyone? No. Have you ever been to jail? No. Was he raised by a single mom? No. Did he have multiple children with different women? No. In fact, Williams’ background couldn’t be more traditional.
He was born and raised in a two-parent home in Bridgeport with his three brothers. His grandmother was his pre-kindergarten teacher and singing in the Bridgeport Boys Choir was his mother’s prerequisite for playing basketball.
He fell in love with band and turned down a full scholarship to Fairfield College Preparatory School because they didn’t have a music program as robust as Bridgeport’s Central High School’s program. He counts his time at Central as among the best four years of his life and credits that time with shaping the trajectory of his career toward education.
“When it came to marching band, that was my life,” he recalled.
As one of the few Black teachers in a school district that is predominately White, he expected that students might be operating with misconceptions and stereotypes. But he said his philosophy was simple: reach them to teach them. Williams said the sooner he answered their questions, and helped them discover what they had in common, the sooner he could get down to sharing his passion for music.
Read the full article here.