Tapped In Member Perspectives: Meet Leo LaBarge

Aside from being a chronically underemployed jazz drummer, Leo LaBarge is a social studies and life skills teacher at Willowglen Academy in Andover, N.J. He has been a member of TappedIn since 2003. This is his second perspective and is a follow-up to the February 2005 issue. Leo's growth as an online presenter is reflected in this update.

Leo's Perspective

I've been a working musician since 1979. Along about 2000 or so, I decided I was getting tired of starving, and thought I could try substitute teaching. I did, and found that I really liked it, and was moderately successful in a classroom. Teaching, (in my mind at least), is a lot like performing music. There is sheet music of sorts, an audience, and room for improvisation. The advantages are there no smoking (usually), no club owners, and you know when you're getting through to the audience because they can tell you what you said.

So, at the age of 41, I went back to college and enrolled in a teacher education course. In 2002, while still in college, I started teaching Reading, Language Arts, and Religion in a small Catholic school. Since 2006 I've been teaching Social Studies and Life Skills in a school for emotionally disturbed adolescents in northwestern New Jersey.

In 2003 I had been referred to Tapped In by my college professor, so I came here and registered. Since that time, I've been able to participate in online discussions, the Tapped In festivals, met some very interesting people from all over the world, found support and guidance in my educational career, and have managed to turn some colleagues on to the features and accommodations here.

In the past ten months I and my colleague Lora Bobrowski have been able to co-lead a monthly discussion about various applications of music to more "academic" subject areas. We call this discussion "Music Across the Curriculum" and it's been pretty successful. To me, "Music Across" is but one example of the incredible potential of Tapped In. We are able to present our thoughts and experiences to a sizable number of educators from different fields in an interactive way that benefits everyone. It's a great way for me to feel like I'm giving back to this online community.

Having such a wide range of people involved gives Tapped In a "human data base" that is unlike anything I've seen anywhere else. Since 2006, when I started at my new job, I've had to expand my interests to special education, world history, educational psychologyÉ the list goes on. I've found a wealth of helpful, knowledgeable people who are more than willing to help. In short, Tapped In helps me immensely in my professional and personal growth. It provides support and resources, as well as a place for me to teach and learn.