Name: Darren Hamilton
Place of birth: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Current Occupation: High School Music Teacher and University Music Instructor
First black person to: First Black recipient of the Juno’s 2022 MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award
"I've always been passionate about diversity being present in music education"
What current what positions Did you hold? Or what did you do that made you the first Black person to accomplish what you did?
In 2022, I was the recipient of the music counts, Teacher of the Year Award at the Juno'. It's the Juno Award that recognizes music educators across Canada once a year, and I was the first Black music educator to be the recipient of this award in 17 years of the award being established.
Can you tell me what led you to become a music educator?
I worked four years full-time as a personal banker, and one of the things I discovered in that role was my passion for teaching and educating. And it was through that, I discovered I had a passion for teaching, so I then started to explore that passion further by volunteering at an elementary school, and I also volunteered as a camp counsellor.
Then I thought to myself, you know what, I have this passion for teaching, but I really also love music, which is what I did for my degree and maybe I can put the two together. So I decided to go back to university, I did some upgrading courses in music education, and then I applied to Teachers College, and then finished teachers college and got a full time job immediately after and the rest is history.
"There's also pressure, I think to perform at a particular level with anything, when you are awarded something. It's almost like you now have the microscope or the spotlight on you, and everyone's looking to see what you're going to do next. Or there's pressure for you to continue excelling an upward trend."
Do you feel a lot of pressure being the first?
Yes, I do feel pressure being the first Black music educator, it is an honour, I'm not going to negate that is extremely honoured, and I'm humbled and thankful for the opportunity. But there's also pressure, I think to perform at a particular level with anything, when you are awarded something. It's almost like you now have the microscope or the spotlight on you, and everyone's looking to see what you're going to do next. Or there's pressure for you to continue excelling an upward trend.
To see the work that I've done and the impact that I'm making at the school is something that just reminds me that, although there's a certain amount of pressure, there's also a certain amount of pride in terms of being proud that I've actually accomplished something. And what I've accomplished was not just for me, but it's for a community of people. It's for the next generation for them to be able to see that excellence is possible, achieving your goals and your dreams is possible.