Tuesday, May 2, 2017
As part of Teacher Appreciation Week, we’re spotlighting some of the wonderful teachers in MPS!
From a very young age, Julio Pabon’s life was infused with rhythm and music – his parents, both born in Puerto Rico, are accomplished musicians. Like many who are passionate about a craft, Julio made up his mind to spread the joy of music. He began teaching 16 years ago and has taught at several elementary schools and is part of the faculty at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. This year, he stepped into the music program at MPS’ Lancaster School.
“My art, music and band teachers all inspired me to be a teacher,” he said. “My favorite teacher was Mr. Heil, my elementary art teacher. I always felt welcomed and I could be myself.” Julio’s father, widely known for his community work in Milwaukee, also set an example of what can be accomplished by individuals who care about those around them.
Julio was born in Milwaukee and raised in New Berlin. He grew up playing trumpet and is now a world-class percussionist, playing with De La Buena Latin Jazz Ensemble and other groups. Teaching is one of the most important parts of his life. “My students teach me to be a better listener, a better giver of information, and a better person. The moment that a student understands something is the ‘aha’ moment that feeds my soul.”
When he has spare time, Julio builds high-quality instruments out of re-purposed materials such as local tree trunks, pizza boxes, steel oil drums, hardwood floor planks, plastic buckets and tin cans. He also shares his love of music with his two children, who are becoming accomplished performers of a number of instruments.
Julio is especially proud that Lancaster received a generous donation of instruments from Little Kids Rock and a classroom set of ukuleles from The Ukuladies. He reveals the joy his students bring to his life. “When we dig deeper into a subject and receive something valuable out of the students’ curiosity, or the moment when all the troubles of the world melt away . . . that’s the connection that moves mountains. That’s what gives me joy.”