Some teachers really make an impact.
And then there’s Mr. Rose, the choral director of the award-winning Coral Reef Senior High choir.
To hear his students rhapsodize about John Rose’s effect on their young lives, a good writer could fuel a season of scripts for TV’s musical series, Glee.
Move over, Mr. Shue. Mr. Rose is the real deal. He’s led his choirs to state honors, founded a non-profit performing arts program, and, lately, he has done so while battling some serious health issues.
“Mr. Rose has taught me to be an incredible leader,” said Coral Reef choir president, Samantha Dubin, 18. “Everything from music, to things that are applicable in life, things I can take to college and my job in the future, he’ll always be the little voice in the back of my head saying, ‘You can do this.’”
“He’s inspired me in all the things he’s overcome. He teaches not just the music, but the meaning behind it,” said Leia Schwartz, 17, a finalist in April as a composer in the Young Talent Big Dreams competition sponsored by Actors’ Playhouse and The Children’s Trust.
Says senior Luisa Rodriguez, 18: “He’s our anchor and we learn to do things for ourselves and he’s really prepared us for life after high school.”
Born in Miami, Rose, 61, has been teaching for 40 years locally, the last 15 at Coral Reef, a magnet school in Southwest Miami-Dade’s Richmond Heights community he helped open with Martha Cabrera, the school’s visual and performing arts lead teacher.
She, too, sings his praises. “He’s incredible. A giving soul.”
Under Rose’s direction, the “Cuda Choir” has earned superior ratings and a distinguished honor at the State Music Performance Assessment earlier this month and straight superiors at Districts. The students were named grand prize winners of the 2012 Merrick Festival Caroling Competition and, in a rarity for a high school group, they staged a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera, The Mikado.
A decade ago, one of Rose’s choirs was invited to back Josh Groban ( You Raise Me Up) during one of his concert stops at The Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater.
Rose also founded the non-profit Where Every Child Is a Star, a performing arts summer camp and program in Miami that offers instruction and promotes participation in music. The group’s SuperNova Singers show choir will perform in concert Saturday at First Baptist Church of Coral Ridge.
But, for the last three years, Rose has conducted his choirs without the full use of his body. Stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a debilitating motor neuron illness also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Rose has limited function of his arms, a conductor’s tools of the trade.
As a result, his students have banded around him.
Rose’s wife Laura will tell you how they will open doors at Coral Reef as he approaches, warm his food for lunch, help turn his music pages. But most of all, they will sing: big, rich, harmonious voices in unison that resonate around the walls of Rose’s classroom. The walls and ledges here are festooned with plaques, trophies and posters.
However, hardware can only tell one part of this story.