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Golden Apple teacher helps put students at ease with music

Green Bay Southwest High School teacher Brandon Rockstroh receives a Golden Apple Award, March 2, 2016. (WLUK/Donna Fischer)

It's rarely quiet inside the vocal music room at Green Bay's Southwest High School. That's where you'll find Brandon Rockstroh leading one of the school's five choirs.

"It's been cool to see people kind of buy into, you know, what my vision is for the program," Rockstroh said.

A vision that started for this former high school rocker six years ago, focused on Southwest students.

"Our goal is to take them from where they are at to the next level," Rockstroh explained.

When asked if he would rather perform or teach, he answered, "Teach. This is their favorite class of the day. This is the room that they feel the most safe in. This is the thing that they're most proud of in their lives right now."

Southwest sophmore, Evan Duranceau, says Rockstroh's class helps with stress at school, "Am I going to pass this class? Am I gonna pass this test? You come in here and it just goes away."

Southwest senior, George Ramirez, says, "What Mr. Rockstroh does is he helps you understand that it's OK to be stressed. But like no matter what, we find our peace with music."

While these advanced students in the Southwest Chorale sound very good, it's only their third day with this music. Whether it's speaking in rhythm, or singing in 8-part-harmony, or at Rockstroh's prodding, just being silly, for Rockstroh it's an emotional journey he's committed to.

"I have never driven to work not excited for the day for what the day is going to bring," he said. "For me to be able to make music with students that are willing to come in here and share a piece of who they are is unexplainable. It's an amazing thing."

Southwest's final choral concert, the one they are now rehearsing, will be May 25.

FOX 11's Tom Milbourn and Michelle Melby kicked off the nomination period for the 23rd annual Golden Apple Awards in November.

The Teachers of Distinction were announced in February and the final list of Golden Apple recipients was announced in March.

This year's Golden Apple Awards ceremony is set for April 20. Click here to register to attend the awards program.

The Golden Apple Awards are a program of the Greater Green Bay Chamber, with support from major sponsors.

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