Losing a special teacher is difficult. We’d been through it before at Thurston Middle School.
My son’s burgeoning percussion skills had ignited under the tutelage of a previous teacher (not to mention former student Gabe Rabben’s inspiration.)
Then the guy left for greener pastures.
As a parent, this seemed disastrous, even dangerous. After all, it was the era of MTV’s “Laguna Beach: The Real O.C.” How could we possibly negotiate the hairpin turns of this wild, wild, west world of cell phones, privilege and entitlement?
On the tail of that blazing comet entered Roger Shew.
Roger exuded rare qualities of wisdom to counter the pressures that surrounded my son and his friends. Roger’s talent in creating a band culture of collaboration and excellence was impressive, but that wasn’t his best skill. Roger understood the transformational power of music in a person’s life. He believed in music. And we could feel it.
Roger was humble.
Roger was tough.
Roger was all-in for the kids, for my son, Charlie Jungheim.
The jazz ensemble flourished in its many forms, small combos to big band. My husband and I chaperoned on buses to competitions with Roger. He seemed to enjoy the fact that we were as amused by the group of creative, hard working teens as he was.
The awards rolled in. My husband cheered Roger on coining the moniker “Old Brown Shew!!”
Recently, I stumbled upon Roger’s thoughtful letter of recommendation for my son’s admittance to Musicians Institute and, yes, he got in.
The devastation of this loss is only matched by the joy of knowing him.
If I had to guess, the time under Roger’s leadership will go down as one of the best times in my son’s life. I know it was one of mine.
The author is a parent of a former Laguna Beach High School student.