PATERSON, NJ - Last spring, Nathan Thomas was another name on a list. Several hundred Paterson teachers had received lay-off notices and Thomas was among them.

He lost his job at School No. 7, but he didn't lose his love of teaching music. So he didn't stop doing it.

Sign Up for E-News

Every Saturday, Thomas makes the 40-mile drive from Somerset County to Paterson to teach a violin ensemble of 16 of his former students, and his does it on a volunteer, no-pay basis, according to a Star-Ledger story

Thomas is a prime example of someone who has gone Above and Beyond to make Paterson a better place. His sessions are conducted in the sanctuary of Saint Bonaventure Roman Catholic Church on Ramsey Street. He and his students played at the Board of Education's January 19 meeting as part of the Paterson Education Organizing Committee's "performance protest"  against the district's art and music budget cuts

Thomas believes the fine arts can take urban students to places beyond their dreams.
“I am quantitative proof,” he said in the Star Ledger article. “Look at the things I’ve had a chance to do.” It took him from the streets of Baltimore, where he grew up, to the University of California, Santa Barbara, on a full scholarship. He’s played in France, Switzerland, England and Italy, the article said. He’s even made a stop at the White House.

Thomas could not let the budget cuts deprive his students of the beauty of music.

“They are taking part in something that is rich in history and valuable on so many levels in the development of civilized adults,” Thomas said in the article. “Part of a well-rounded education is understanding the fine arts.”