No matter where Coby Coco goes, he is surrounded by music and he would not have it any other way.
Coco splits his time as assistant band leader at Elm Grove Middle and Parkway High School. His wife also teaches music at Bossier Elementary and their three children are musically inclined as well.
It is Coco's passion for percussion and all things band and desire to instill that love for music among his students that has earned him the Bossier Parish School Board's Gold Star Award for February.
He was working with percussion students at Parkway when representatives from Bossier Federal Credit Union, the sponsor of the employee Gold Star Award, and school administrators walked in to surprise him with the news.
"Wow! I'm never speechless, but am now," Coco said. "I am absolutely humbled. My wife is going to be so proud!"
The assistant band director fought back emotion as a letter from a parent was read, nominating him for the employee of the month award.
It read, "Mr. Coco is an inspiration to all of his students. He provides motivation and instills pride to his proteges that begin with him in sixth grade and most of them remain with him until they graduate." The parent went on to say, "My daughter, who started with Mr. Coco as a sixth grader was diagnosed with a neurological disease ... causing weakness in her legs and hands as it progresses. We thought she would have to give up band when entering high school because she could not march and her hands did not do well holding mallets. Mr. Coco purchased a synthesizer for the band and included it as an integral part of the marching show for her. He even ordered a special cart on wheels so that she didn't have to carry her instrument on the field. He makes sure she continues to feel like a valuable part of his percussion ensemble, even though she is limited. Mr. Coco embodies the goal that no child be left behind."
Ask Coco what he loves most about his job and he will tell you, "I get to start percussionists as sixth graders and have them until they graduate."
"No two days are the same," he added. "Watching them grow and succeed. Most all the percussionist Seniors that have graduated ended up getting scholarships to college."
Playing percussion has paid the way for many of his students to attend college, Coco explained.
"I have one right now at ULL who is getting a full ride," he said.
Coco's dedication does not go unnoticed by school administrator, either.
Parkway Principal Dr. Nichole Bourgeois said, "Coby Coco is one of those outstanding community members who, as a teacher, on a day-to-day basis recognizes the tremendous responsibility of preparing students for adulthood and accepts the challenge of providing meaningful experiences that will support responsible, critical and intelligent citizenship."
Terrie Johnson, Principal at Elm Grove Middle School, agreed Coco is most deserving of the Gold Star.
"He is a very strong role model and provides continuity for our students as they transition to high," Johnson said. "He really encourages them to continue their pursuit of music."