After studying music education at Indiana State University, Dan Cummins was thrilled to return to the region and accept a position with the Hammond Academy for the Performing Arts.
“I was highly involved in band and musical theater while attending Gavit High School. During that time I performed and conducted in numerous concerts with the band and was turned on the world of music in a very positive way,” Cummins, 27, said.
The Hammond resident took a band director position in 2011, and last year, was named director of HAPA.
“I decided to work at HAPA because I wanted to give students in Hammond similar or better artistic experiences than I had in high school,” he said.
“My goal as a teacher in Hammond is to ‘pay it forward.’ Our students deserve it. All too often districts are removing arts programs, but Hammond has chosen to break that trend and infuse the arts with the creation of the HAPA.”
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Cummins, who will finish a master's degree in school administration in May, plays multiple instruments, including the flute, saxophone and French horn, but specializes in the trumpet.
He currently teaches high school students, and spearheaded the Gateway to Instrumental Music program for fifth graders at Harding, Hess and Morton elementary schools in 2010.
The program allows students to gain hands-on experience in music and learn a band instrument before transitioning into middle school. Cummins' program was the first band program in Hammond elementary schools in 30 years, and continues today.
“Whoever said, ‘If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life’ is a liar. There are times when it takes hard work and sacrifice to make things happen, but when it comes down to it, it’s all about our students and the art,” he said.
“That makes for a really awesome job.”