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Band director to be profiled on TV
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Usually Newton County residents see Alan Fowler, band director at Eastside High School, in his classroom, bleachers or on the football field - but Monday morning the greater Atlanta metro area can see him on the small screen.

Producers of the NBC 11Alive 6 a.m. and noon newscasts chose Fowler to be the first teacher for the 2007-2008 school year featured in their weekly Class Act segment. The profile will also be featured online.

Every year parents, students and other teachers nominate 300-400 teachers to be profiled on the segment. Producers choose about 40 of them for broadcast. Those featured also receive a $50 gift certificate to a local teacher supply store and are invited to a banquet in May.

Former Eastside band parent Nat Harwell nominated Fowler, but also knew him as a fellow church parishioner before moving to Newton County.

"He was in my Sunday school class in Riverdale way back in 1983," Harwell said.

Harwell said he nominated Fowler for his dedication to giving his students a well-rounded music education.

"And it all comes from the heart," Harwell said. "There is nothing fake about him."

In his letter Harwell detailed Fowler's guidance on student trips to Hawaii and Canada and performing at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. He said he appreciated Fowler's love of Georgia and inclusion of the state's history in his lessons as well.

Harwell also mentioned Fowler hosting a Monday morning breakfast for all the Newton County band directors.

"He has them come out because he doesn't want any walls being built with competitions and concerts and all," Harwell said.

Fowler is a devoted family man and a man of faith who leads by example rather than force, according to Harwell.

"He's got the finest character, the finest moral fiber of any person you will ever meet," Harwell said.

Fowler's students also agree with Harwell that he is a "class act."

"He mixes the theory of music with fun things," said senior bass clarinet player Andre McLean.

McLean said Fowler often takes out his tuba and plays an example or tells a funny story. He remembered goofing off with Fowler while eating lunch at a district honor band competition and coming up with catch phrases for the band.

Kelsey Williams, junior clarinet player, said she also enjoys Fowler's sense of humor.

"He has a good attitude," Williams said, "and he's just a really good teacher."

Williams defined Fowler as very supportive of his students' music and all other subjects.

"He'll always try to help you out if you need something and he adjusts to you," Williams said.

McLean said he has learned much more than how to read sheet music or who Bach is in Fowler's class.

"He has taught me a lot of things," McLean said, "not just about music, but about life."

Fowler has taught hundreds of students in his 17 years as a teacher - 12 of them at Eastside.

He started playing the tuba in fifth grade and the instrument remains the favorite of those he plays.

"That's the one I'm best at," Fowler said.

When he was a junior in high school he participated in band in the Governor's Honors Program.

"That's when I realized that's what I wanted to do," Fowler said. "When I saw the band director there and how much fun he was having, I thought - he has a great life because he's doing what he loves."

Fowler said he likes to maintain a jovial spirit in his classroom.

"I try not to stay on anything too long - keep it moving," Fowler said.

He also said he wants to teach his students much more than music appreciation but how to think critically, work with others, keep an open mind and act courteously.

"Years ago I figured out that I was supposed to be teaching band and music," Fowler said, "but I'm really teaching kids - that's important."

Harwell said Fowler goes above and beyond as a band director in his attention to detail and passion for his work.

He said his high school band director once asked him: "Nat if everyone practiced as hard as you do, do you think our band would be better, worse or the same?" To Harwell, Fowler is a person to emulate.

"The world would be an unbelievably better place if everyone conducted themselves as Alan Fowler does," Harwell said.