Music teacher Jon Fey will leave MVHS on Wednesday, Oct. 29

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Yifei Wu

After teaching for 13 years at MVHS, Fey finds a new job at Northgate High School

“So you finally cleaned up the library?”

The voice belonged to senior Karen Xu, who had been a member in band all four years in high school. She was asking music teacher Jon Fey, who was busy with putting the manila folders in order in the soft yellow hue of the library, where all of the music is stored.

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“Yeah. I want it to be clean for the new teacher,” Fey said.

On Oct. 21, Fey also took down some photo frames from the walls of his office as a preparation for his departure on Oct. 29. The walls, now almost empty, had once been full of pictures from former students, including one giant frame with a compilation of photos from a former student, who took one picture with Fey at the end of the year for all four years of high school. The frame is now packaged inside Fey’s trunk and ready to be sent to Northgate High School, where Fey will assume the position of a vice principal.

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The library where music teacher Jon Fey stores all the music is cleaned on Oct 21. According to senior Karen Xu, who has been in band all four years of high school, it is rare for Fey to clean the room. Fey sorts through the files in the library as a preparation before departure. Photo by Yifei Wu.
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The neon poster with giant words, “You lost the game”, has been hanging in Fey’s office since 2012, when MVHS alumna Anu Vaishnav gave it to Fey. “Back then, ‘I lost the game’ was a big thing,” Fey said. “Even now some people would say ‘I lost the game’ during rehearsals.” Photo by Yifei Wu.
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The sign YAMAMAHA, a riff off of the brand of instrument, Yamaha, has been posted on the glass wall of Fey’s office since 2001, when Fey first became a teacher at MVHS. Fey was unsure whether to bring the sign with him because it would look inappropriate for his job at the new school. Photo by Yifei Wu.

El Estoque: When did you start teaching in MVHS?
Jon Fey: Actually, the first time that I taught here was in 1995, when I was a student teacher. Then in 2001, a job opened up here; I applied, and I got the job. So this year is my fourteenth year teaching here.

EE: Where will you teach next?
JF: I will not be teaching because I have been offered one of the Vice Principal positions at Northgate High School. It will be one and a half hours away from my home, [unlike] MVHS, [which] is two hours away from home.

EE: Who will be the substitute?
JF: [John] Galli [who left MVHS in 2013] will come back and finish this semester. Then the school will advertise the job and will doing pre-screening and then interview. The goal is to have somebody selected and ready to take over before January.

EE: What classes have you taught in MVHS?
JF: I’ve taught band, orchestra and choir, [along with] pep band and marching band. My very first year teaching I had a couple periods of choir and band; I didn’t teach orchestra until I got here.

EE: How was your marching band experience?
JF: We had a great marching band [in 2001], but we got to a point two years ago when the interest was falling. A lot of it was driven by parents. We eliminated marching band two years ago. But we had a lot of students in the program who wanted to do it. It was obvious that students and parents had different priorities for their after school time.

EE: What will be the one thing that you will remember about MVHS?
JF: Without a doubt, the students. I have had the most amazing students come through this program, and all the memories that I have been able to build with them will be the thing that I will remember the most. We have had an amazing faculty, we have had a supportive administration, we have had staff that makes [MVHS] a great place to work, but I have to say the one thing that I will remember the most is the amazing students that are here.

EE: What is your advice for students who want to join band?
JF: I would say do band for all four years, make it a commitment to do it for all four years, especially for students who have been in band all their middle school years. We have a lot of people who do [band] for one year, and then they are gone because they have gotten their graduation requirements. My advice is, you have invested so much time and energy in music, do it for all four years. Your relationship with your teacher is going to be different than your relationship with any other teacher on campus. You will have a strong connection to that music teacher, somebody that you feel you like you can talk to and a place that you will feel safe in. You know, as you go from freshman year to sophomore year to junior year to senior year, any other class, you will have different teachers, but [for band] it will be different. That’s the benefit for me as well, getting to know the students who spend their four years in band and in orchestra. It’s a special thing. It’s sad when they graduate and go away, but after being in my class for four years, I know that they will have the skills to survive out in college in the real world.