LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Donald Cerchia

Position: Instrumental Music Director
School: Perris High School
School District: Perris Union High School District
City, State: Perris, CA

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Music that Describes Donald

Donald Cerchia was nominated by an anonymous colleague.

Mr. Cerchia has spent over 10 years at Perris High School building a music program from the ground up without the support of band boosters. Prior to his arrival, the marching band program had been non-existent for the past five to seven years. When he arrived, there were limited resources of instruments, music and staff to rebuild the program. Within a couple of years, Mr. Cerchia was able to have a competitive marching band. It has been the only high school group in the district to be a finalist in the California State Band Championships for the past five years.

Since Perris High School is in a low demographic area, every low income student has the benefit of having an instrument loaned free of charge. The program has reached a level of excellence to perform on Catalina Island, Knott's Berry Farm, and the flight deck of the USS Midway Carrier in San Deigo for two years.

As a loving husband and a father of two children, Mr. Cerchia is a nurturing teacher who brings a positive atmosphere to all his students, both in and outside of school hours. Mr. Cerchia goes above and beyond by giving advice, guiding students to become good citizens, writing future recommendations to those who are entering their first year in college, being a mentor to students who seek help with life situations and obstacles, and providing the best music education while holding every student accountable to be at their best in learning a musical instrument.

In addition, Mr. Cerchia is one of the few committed band directors who runs a program with little help to provide every student with a working instrument and a clean uniform. He designs and constructs props for yearly field shows, creates unique ideas such as LED lights to illuminate drums for a spring concert, and will haul a band trailer to every competitive field show and other outside performance events.

Finally, Mr. Cerchia holds every student accountable for his or her own moral and ethical behavior with Q/A conversations of life experiences and the expectations of society. He not only teaches music, but provides students with the ability to be a fabric of our society. They are responsible for managing scheduled practices and performances, maintaining cleanliness of school and public areas, being considerate of others, developing good social skills, and having a good attitude when it comes to teamwork that transfers to everyday "real world" challenges and employment of future companies.