02/01/2011 02:20 pm ET Updated 6 days ago

N.J. School Cuts Music Program, Nathan Thomas Continues To Teach Violin Free Of Charge

When the public school music program was eliminated at Patterson Public School No. 7, music teacher Nathan Thomas warned his students that he'd be Bach.

"I told the kids to hold on and give me some time to figure out a plan."

Although still unemployed, he returned into their lives by setting up a free Saturday class for the students he was forced to leave.

According to The New Jersey Star-Ledger, Thomas coordinated with a local church to set ongoing weekend classes for the disadvantaged youth he formerly taught at the school. He drives an hour from his home to teach violin, free of charge.

After leading his students through a recent concert, Thomas told their parents that he could not abandon them, even if it wasn't cost-effective.

"As adults we have a very powerful role in the lives of children. Telling them that you are leaving them is difficult and painful. But immediately we decided as a team we were not going to let the fact that I had been laid off keep us from continuing to make music."

Jesus Rolon, a student of Thomas who now participates in the Saturday program, told the Star-Ledger how music made a difference in his life.

"People now believe in me. I'm not just a kid who struggles with his grades. My grades changed. Now I'm an honor roll student. It was life-changing."


In October, the North Jersey Record reported on Thomas' termination. When the students found out that their music classes were cancelled, they e-mailed him to come back.

"I couldn't just ignore them. They wanted to keep playing so I said, 'Fine, we'll do a Christmas concert.'"

According to the Record, the students requested to play the familiar "Minuet 2," by Bach.