Jimmy Lee Day II, a teacher at East Middle School in Aurora, told CBS News that he credits his effective teaching methods to two things; connection and consistency. Those elements have definitely shown results as he wrote his name in the history books after he was named Colorado’s first Black male Teacher of the Year.
Though Day was initially honored for his feat at a surprise ceremony in his school last October, he received a special recognition from Colorado State Senator, Rhonda Fields, on the Senate floor last Tuesday.
Day, whose career in education spans more than 13 years, is an Aurora Public Schools band director and instrumental music teacher. He has also worked as a teacher at East Middle School for about five years. During the course of his career, Day reportedly worked on three band programs that have ultimately become award-winning projects. District music festivals have also given the programs very high rating scores.
“From classroom management to how I rehearse my students to how I want my expectations – it’s consistent, it doesn’t change, it’s unbending and then my connection – me making myself human just like you, and we make connections,” Day said about his teaching methods.
Day, per his biography, earned a bachelor’s degree in music at Tennessee State University in May 2006. He followed that up with a Master of Arts in teaching at Trevecca Nazarene University in December 2008. As a result of his transformative teaching, the Black educator was selected to participate and serve as a mentor in the Public Education & Business Coalition, and the Aurora Public School Mentoring Community of Practice.
“Day is passionate about meeting students where they are and giving them the skills to grow and appreciate what they are doing,” his bio adds. “This approach allows him to set high, but attainable, expectations that students can feel proud about accomplishing.”
In a news release after he received the honor, Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes said that Day’s “knowledge of music and passion for sharing it with students is clear to anyone who steps into his classroom or attends an East Middle band performance.”
“I am inspired by his dedication to not only help young musicians develop their instrumental skills but also instill them with confidence and demonstrate life lessons,” Anthes added.
The honor bestowed on Day will remain until the end of the year.