Best high school teacher: DV band director snags top honors for teaching in Ahwatukee - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Best Of 2013

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Best high school teacher: DV band director snags top honors for teaching in Ahwatukee

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Posted: Friday, January 31, 2014 12:03 am

Becoming the best in your work is not an over-night occurrence; rather it can take years to hone your skills to be considered to be on top of the game.

Desert Vista High School Director of Bands Josh Thye understands this, and through his relentless hard work and drive he has been named 2013 Best High-School Teacher in Ahwatukee.

Thye showed promise when it came to music since his high school years being part of the Desert Vista Marching band playing the trumpet. He also comes from a musically inclined family, with his father having a doctorate in choral conducting.

He decided to continue his music education while attending the University of Arizona, where he received a bachelor’s degree in music education in 2003.

“It kind of solidified the plan to pursue teaching music, specifically high school band,” Thye said.

While completing his student teaching at Corona del Sol High School, Thye sought musical guidance from Director of Bands Bill Richardson, who he says has become a mentoring figure in his life.

As his student teaching was coming to an end, Desert Vista’s former director of bands, Eric Holden, tragically lost his fight against cancer.

“It was a really tough time. It’s hard to describe what certain teachers mean, and specifically for band kids they get to know their director over the course of four years,” he said.

Richardson encouraged Thye to apply for the position, feeling he would be perfect for the job.

Thye was a bit hesitant about the thought of running the marching band program at Desert Vista because the community was still mourning the death of their beloved instructor, and felt he was inexperienced considering he just graduated from college. He decided to apply for the position anyway.

“I was straight out of college, I had zero experience,” Thye said. “I was hired in May 2003 and it was a very humbling process.”

The humbling process for Thye came as a healing process for his new students and their families, which Thye found himself in the cross hairs of their pain.

The first year became a roller coaster ride for the young teacher because many of the parents and students were a bit uneasy about Thye, as they were still in mourning.

“It was a learning process and there are families that I will never forget, who supported me and ended up joining me in the process,” he said.

Thye began receiving letters from parents, supportive and not so supportive; about the direction the marching band was heading, and he decided to file each letter he received.

Eventually, by his fourth year of teaching Thye began getting his footing and began growing with the marching band.

In 2008, the marching band showed success by finishing sixth place in Bands of America, and during the same year was able to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York.

“We focused our energy in what it takes to be the best in something,” Thye said. “It’s kind of scary to say it out loud because there is always that fear of failure, but the drive and determination really grew.”

Since then, Thye has been moving the program on the right direction of success, winning four consecutive state titles.

However, Thye believes all the success from the program is from a team effort from his staff to his students.

“Any success that I might have experienced, if you look deeper there’s a team involved,” he said.

Being recognized for his work as 2013 Best High School Teacher in Ahwatukee is an honoring experience for Thye, and he is completely humbled by the experience.

“In many ways I still feel that I’m filling in for Eric. I’m just trying to do the best I can in a program he started. We’ve had our ups and downs and I know that we will have to ride that roller coaster again, but it’s really an honor. This is a wonderful community full of lots of very good teachers,” he said. “It’s been a wonderful ride.”

Andy Chen, senior drum major, feels his teacher is deserving of the award through his dedication to the program and care for his students.

“He’s been a lot more than a teacher, he’s been more of a mentor,” he said.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or

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