Who’s New at RHS: Mr. Monaghan


Photo courtesy of Gaelvision

   “True to the moment no matter what it takes.” An excellent mantra for those who know what living truly is. A phrase that has stuck with me since Friday, the day of my interview with Roxbury High School’s newest percussion instructor, Mr. Mark Monaghan. Upon entering his Google Meet, I was greeted by the man himself. We had bantered quite a bit about various little things before getting into the meat of our conversation that day. 

            At first, I asked him to tell me what it is that he taught exactly, as I had only been provided with the fact that he worked in the Musical Arts department prior to our interview. Not only did he tell me of his position as a percussion instructor and as an occasional substitute teacher but he also told me of the layout of the teacher’s schedule, including the “vertical system” that is implemented (essentially meaning that they teach both the middle and high school). After that came the harder hitting questions, such as what prompted Mr. Monaghan to pursue a career in music education. From here, I was told the story of Mr. Monaghan majoring in Psychology, citing our shared interest in human behavior. Afterwards, he joined a professional marching band where he met some of his biggest influences. But after that experience, he worked a small job where he soon realized that what he really wanted to do ever since he was a child was teach music. And from here, Mr. Monaghan went back to college to study music, graduating just last year, and worked as a substitute teacher for one of the other music teachers in this school. 

            From here, I was starting to truly invest myself emotionally into Mr. Monaghan’s stories and experiences. It was now time to talk about the present. And what better way to start then to ask him how his experience at Roxbury High School is? When presented with this question, he told me the story of one of his former teachers, Todd Nichols, who changed Mr. Monaghan’s outlook on many things. This was a segue into him telling me his experience with Roxbury as a whole, which he describes as simply “humbling,” despite the pandemic we’re currently living in. 

            From here, while I was on the subject of school, it was time to ask about the thing that really makes a school what it is: the students. And so I asked him of his thoughts on the students he instructs and what makes an ideal student. He gave some insight into what he believes makes up an ideal student such as the willingness to change and hone your skills, both of which I wholeheartedly agree with. In describing his experiences on thoughts on the students, he speaks about them in seemingly high regards, even with the effects of the pandemic taking their toll on them. 

            From here, I proceed with the more “leisurely” questions, such as asking about Mr. Monaghan’s favorite music (Hip-Hop), artists (A Tribe Called Quest & Foo Fighters) and instrument (the drum kit). Now when I was jotting down my questions for Mr. Monaghan, I remembered that I too was a musician, picking up a guitar just over the summer. So I had to ask Mr. Monaghan what advice he would give to any aspiring musician out there in the world. He had told me that an artist must approach music with a genuine attitude and to not worry about impressing anyone. He had unfortunately wasted quite a bit of time trying to impress people with his music. But once the need to impress was shed, Mr. Monaghan had never felt more genuine. So it was this advice that I not only jotted down but made a large note to myself of.

            It was after this question that we were approaching the end of the interview (Mostly because he had a class to attend to in a few short minutes). So I concluded the interview with one last, heavy-hitting question: Describe yourself in just one sentence. It was here that Mr. Monaghan had donned an expression on his face that told me that he was really putting every ounce of thought into his answer. And after several seconds of thought, he had given me his answer; “True to the moment no matter what it takes.”

            After giving me his answer, it let it sink in for a second or two before saying our goodbyes. After the interview, I genuinely feel as if I have a sense of how Mr. Monaghan is as a person and an artist. Even just communicating with him from a Google Meet has given me the sense that every aspiring musician in this high school should get to know him. He is a genuine, knowledgeable, and talented teacher we have here at Roxbury High School: one that stays true to the moment no matter what it takes.