Jarrett Lipman has a term for a teacher’s selflessness in engaging and empowering his students: Servant leadership, which “means committing oneself wholly to improving the lives of your students, peers and community,” he said. “It means prioritizing the welfare and needs of your students over your own career goals and teaching your students to share their gifts and talents with others in order to make a positive impact on the world.”
And students, parents and colleagues recognize and appreciate Lipman’s teaching perspective. “I am both excited and proud to see not just the music and performances that Jarrett teaches our children but the life lessons and personal growth they glean from his approach to the music arts and being a better member of the community,” wrote a band parent in one of Lipman’s “40 Under 40” nomination letters.
Lipman started at Claudia Taylor “Lady Bird” Johnson High School when it opened in 2008. “The best thing about teaching at a new school is that you get to help build and shape the culture of the campus from scratch. The sky is the limit,” he said.
However, Lipman acknowledges that this pro can also be a con because you “must demonstrate tremendous patience through the years waiting for the cultures and players to develop. Like any great meal or project, it takes time and a willingness to see it through until the end.”
His patience has paid off — his music program currently has more than 350 members. “We see band at Johnson as a 6th through 12th grade journey,” Lipman said. “Building relationships with students during their formative years on their instruments keep them in band through high school. In high school, we work to find that careful balance between challenging them through high standards and providing them with once-in-a-lifetime musical experiences.”
The school’s namesake, Lady Bird Johnson, once said, “Children are apt to live up to what you believe of them.” Lipman takes these words to heart. In another nomination letter, a colleague wrote, “Not only does Mr. Lipman continue to push the envelope when it comes to visual and musical design on the field, he always takes time to help others in need.”