If I were to describe Mr. Renzi in a few words, the first words that come to mind are humble, perserverant, hardworking, wise… and the list would go on. In fact, when I think of the kind of teacher I want to be when I begin my career, it looks kind of like him. But of course, me. I haven’t known Mr. Renzi since I was little, or even since fifth grade really, at least not the way I have come to know him throughout my high school years. To me, to many, he was that mean scary guy that only showed up at the big rehearsals and the concerts (unless you had him as a teacher in middle school, of course- then things would be different). Even Freshman year, he was still that guy. I remember my friends saying, “Karin, I’m scared to go tell him I won’t be at practice tomorrow, can you come with me?” In fact, I might have even said that a couple times. Each time it became funnier and funnier to me that we would ever think that. Mr. Renzi is not scary or mean at all… but he is a pro at guilting you. In fact, if he wasn’t good at guilting people, he wouldn’t have been able to recruit such wonderful students and families to be a part of this band. If you look at it this way, it’s one of his talents. Personally, I don’t approach Mr. Renzi very often about much, yet I wish I had, but I’ve come to know him just by being his student and seeing how he teaches and how he treats each individual. Mr. Renzi truly has a special gift for teaching. When he is frustrated, he might yell, but he apologizes and lets his students know he cares. When he is having a good day, he could just joke around all day with us. When someone is struggling, he takes time to help that person, and he is genuinly concerned and interested in what that student needs. When he isn’t sure how to handle something, he admits it. When he may not understand someone, he treats them with dignity and love. Each of these descriptions spark specific memories I have of seeing him in class or on the field, and I’m sure they could in all of you, too.
Another really unique thing about Mr. Renzi is his humility. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t know much about Mr. Renzi’s past until maybe even junior year. This man marched in the Caveliers! I can’t even imagine how proud he must be, yet he doesn’t brag, or bring it up for that matter. Something I really like about him is how he talks about his high school years- how he thought he could get away without practicing much, and how he was just like us, until college kicked his butt. I love how he relates his personal experiences to what we might be going through, and shares his wisdom with us.
Periodically during this past marching band season, I would get frustrated and question his judgment. I lost track of my place and my role, but when I was able to take a step back again, I realized that Mr. Renzi is so good at what he does, he never makes a rash decision. He has been doing what he does for years, and the amount of respect I have for him after working with him this year is immense. I’m sure he gets tired, heck, I got tired and I only had one year. I am so grateful he has been able to be here for us for as long as he has. I had the opportunity to talk to other field commanders about their band programs, and it caused me to realize that we are so blessed to have such a comitted and passionate band director, and a stable program. Most schools don’t have that- a class might go through two or three band directors before they graduate. But we do, and its because this man sees us as his family. It’s more than just a career, its a lifestyle, a dream, something he loves. And that really teaches me the biggest lesson of all: if you want to bring passion and love to others, be passionate and love what you do. Mr. Renzi, you have taught me more than I knew I was in store for, beyond notes and rhythms, and you have inspired me, and all of us over the years, to work harder than we thought we would ever have to work, and never lose sight of our dreams.