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Hello Mr. Duncan, Goodbye Ms. Ravitch

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PEOPLE

Hello Mr. Duncan, Goodbye Ms. Ravitch

PEOPLE: Getting to know the Music substitute Mr. Andrew Duncan

Aaron Meija| Features Writer
February 18, 2018


It’s hard to see old faces go—but new faces are always welcome at Van Nuys High School.

After one year as a music teacher at Van Nuys High School, Ms. Valerie Ravitch has left the school to be the new band director at Van Nuys Middle School, where the previous band director, Mr. Ken Hyatt, passed away on Oct. 23 last year after battling leukemia.

With Ms. Ravitch’s departure, Mr. Andrew Duncan will be a long-term substitute for the rest of the spring semester, teaching music classes including band, strings and percussion.

Mr. Duncan is well known throughout LAUSD as an experienced music teacher. He has been playing for almost 30 years and is excited to inspire students at VNHS.

“Right now this is strictly a semester long assignment” – Mr. Duncan

What did you do before becoming a substitute teacher?

I was a private trumpet teacher about 15 years ago with a day job of delivering flowers for the Enchanted Florist out in Burbank. I worked many odd jobs and I would continue to do other odd jobs. I worked a ticketing department for the World Cup back in 1994 when . But I was mainly a trumpet instructor. I was doing trumpet instruction and raising my son, who was just born about eight years ago. My wife was working, and I ended up just doing that and dropping my son off in the afternoon to teach at my mother-in-law’s house.

Why did you want to come to VNHS?

I was given the opportunity to substitute for the band director who had taken a full time job at Van Nuys Middle School, so since the position was open here, I emailed Mrs. Gardea to let her know that I would be available to work as a substitute teacher. I’m currently working towards my full time credential which should take another year and half to get. The fact that this school gave me the opportunity to learn how to teach beginning and advanced courses was a great opportunity I didn’t want to pass up.

What made you get into teaching music?

I love playing music both as a student and as an adult. I have been in numerous bands around town and have also been very inspired by good music. I figured as long as I gave the knowledge and the inspiration to other people, why not?

Have you taught any string or percussion classes before?

I have been a substitute for a couple of middle schools around town. So yes, I have taught many string and percussion courses.

Do you miss Van Nuys Middle School?

I do indeed. I really like the fact that Van Nuys Middle School seemed very much of a home. I really enjoyed that aspect of it. Mr. Crow was a really good guy, and Mr. Clemensen a very nice guy, and of course the music department was great. So I was really fortunate to be able to have such a great bunch of students in the department. It was really nice.

When you get your full teaching credential, do you plan on staying at VNHS?

It depends. This is strictly a semester long assignment and I have other offers and opportunities from other schools. Right now, this is just to fill Mrs. Ravitch’s spot for the next semester until the school brings in somebody who has a lot of experience with marching band, something I don’t have a lot of experience with, but is something I hope could be possible. I like being here and I like the fact that Mr. Eisenhart, the main Band Director—who has been a mainstay—is someone who has a gift at teaching music. And then you have Mrs. Gardea herself who was a Band Director at Walter Reed Middle School. I can’t help but learn from both, and it’s one of the reasons why I relished taking this gig.


Aaron Mejia is currently the Social Media Editor for The Mirror. He joined his freshman year and is currently in his first year for the publication.

Besides journalism, Aaron enjoys practicing string instruments, playing sports such as tennis and track & field. He loves to build gundam model kits and play Hearthstone. Aaron also listens to multiple genres of music like RnB and alternative rock.


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Hello Mr. Duncan, Goodbye Ms. Ravitch