ROXBURY, NJ –Roxbury School Board Member Dan Masi and his musically talented wife and children picked up their instruments during Teacher Appreciation Week and recorded a music video as a way of giving thanks to teachers and other school workers.

The YouTube video, which runs two minutes and 37 seconds, shows the Masi family performing the song “Thank You” by English singer/songwriter Dido. It includes not only video clips of the family members playing the song, but also still photographs taken over the years of some big days related to school.

Masi said the goal of the effort was to acknowledge the work of teachers and others in the school district since March 18 when the COVID-19 crisis forced the closure of all schools and the move to remote instruction.

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“I think this time has been particularly hard on teachers,” Masi said today. “I'm not a teacher, but I imagine that one of the most gratifying things for a teacher is to watch the light come on, to witness that moment of spark and discovery that you've helped guide a student to. That's a big part of a teacher's thanks, and I think this quarantine has largely taken that away.“

Difficult Days

Noting his wife, Carolyn, is a teacher and middle school band instructor, Masi said he believes some people don’t realize remote teaching is far from easy.

“I think teachers are under-appreciated by some of the public during this time, people who imagine that - without a classroom to go to – teachers’ lives are somehow easier now,” he said. However, Masi said his wife’s experience has been far from easy.

"During the shut-down, I've watched her working easily 50 percent more than usual,” he said. “Many nights, she's been up on her work computer at 10 p.m., even midnight.”

To make the video, Dan, Carolyn, 14-year-old Justin, and 17-year-old Julia Masi, played their instruments in separate rooms, an homage to so-called “distance learning” taking place due to the school closures.

That’s noted in the opening sequences of the film, with the family explaining, “We picked a song, arranged it for our ‘ensemble,’ and went to virtual corners of our house to record our parts.”

In the video, Carolyn Masi plays trumpet, Justin Masi plays trombone, Julia Masi plays French horn and Dan Masi plays trombone. 'I mainly play euphonium, which is in the same range as the trombone but looks more like a very small tuba," he noted.

Masi said the pandemic has forced teachers to exercise unprecedented flexibility and imagination. “In a very short time, teachers have had to figure out how to take what they usually do and make it work without being with their students, without their classrooms and resources,” he said. “It has to feel like they're talking into a microphone and hoping someone at the other end is hearing them.”

The goal of the video, he said, was partially to “do our little bit to let the teachers know that yes, they're still coming through loud and clear.”

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