Orchestra teacher makes a mark on students

Jeff Rollins takes over teaching HHS orchestra classes.

The Huntley High School seniors at their last concert with directors Leah Novak and Jeff Rollins.

Courtesy of Logan Stewart

The Huntley High School seniors at their last concert with directors Leah Novak and Jeff Rollins.

Megan Curry

Every morning, Jeff Rollins starts off his day in the music department, greeting his first and second hour classes and ready to start off a day of orchestra. All of his students are excited to see him and ready to play their instruments. 

Rollins has been a music teacher for three years, teaching in Huntley’s school district. He started off as a fifth-grade orchestra teacher for two years and then started teaching the high school and fifth-grade orchestras at the same time in his third year. 

“I like [teaching Huntley kids] a lot. All of the kids in the orchestra are all pretty committed to doing it and are having fun with it,” Rollins said. 

Rollins is currently the orchestra director for all of the high school orchestras, which includes the Concert, Philharmonic, and Symphonic Orchestras. He is also the director of the fifth-grade orchestra at Martin Elementary School. 

Rollins was not the first Huntley orchestra teacher, as before him, the fine arts department chair, Leah Novak, was in charge three years prior. Many students were very hesitant to switch teachers, especially the juniors and seniors, as most would be ending their orchestra careers with a brand new teacher. Rollins, however, wanted to make all of the students feel welcome and enjoy learning their instruments. 

“[At] the beginning of the year there’s a lot of getting to know each other, and what I accept and what I don’t accept and what the kids accept and what they don’t accept. Also, what we expect of each other,” Rollins said. “I feel like after our first concert, everyone was on the same ship.” 

Although the year started off a little rocky, many students grew to enjoy having Rollins as a teacher and mentor, especially seniors, as it was a great end to their careers. 

“At the beginning of the year, it started a bit rough, but as time went on, it became a lot easier. But other than that, it went well. We progressed through pieces faster,” senior Caden Rasmussen said. “One of my favorite memories is when Mr. Rollins got his head shaved and the first thing he says [is what] ‘we are going to play is ‘Night on Bald Mountain,’ and everyone laughed.”

Rollins’ goal was to make all of the kids feel welcome and feel like they are part of a family, as many of them have grown up together and played for many years. Many students feel as though they have a sense of belonging in the orchestra. 

“I think Mr. Rollins inspired in me some interest in playing more professionally. I never really considered it before, but it’s something I can see myself doing now.” senior Logan Stewart said.