In light of the allegations concerning former Libertyville High School band director Jeff Daeschler, we believe the public should hear the opinion of his former students.
First, we would like to clarify that none of us disagrees that what is alleged to have occurred was unprofessional and inappropriate. However, many students are upset about the portrayals of Daeschler in several news sources, and it is extremely frustrating that only the negatives about him have been brought to light.
Some of his students have been musicians from a very young age and have been blessed with many excellent musical mentors, and to say that Jeff Daeschler was one of the finest mentors we have ever worked under is not a careless statement.
Daeschler entered the Libertyville band program with all eyes following every action of this "new guy," and we would be lying if we did not say that many students, ourselves included, were simply waiting for the mistakes that would lead to the deterioration of our band's longtime excellence.
It did not take long for the "new guy" to prove us all wrong. Somehow Daeschler was capable of combining ambition, hard work and relaxed good humor into a perfect storm of musical talent that not only won awards and our respect, but also pushed many of us to be better musicians.
But to speak only of Daeschler's musical capabilities would be doing him a disservice. So many of us came to see him as not only a knowledgeable teacher but also a trusted adviser and friend. He was never too busy to chat, never so stressed he yelled at us (even if he probably should have), and never so competitive he put the pursuit of success over the well-being of his students.
We were all so fortunate to gain a teacher who understood that the best bands are not fueled by the threat of bad grades or petty competition against fellow musicians. His impact at Libertyville can only truly be measured in the words of his students, many of whom are trying to process what has happened.
"I admit that even for me it was hard not to just focus on this ..., but now I'm remembering all the good things he did." one student said. "After seeing the passion and joy he brought to his job and students, I was inspired to pursue a career in music education."
Another student said, "I walked into his office many times in tears and left feeling like I could accomplish anything. He meant a lot to us, and I'm sad to have to say goodbye."
We know many of you readers never had the chance to get to know Jeff Daeschler and now this "scandal" is what you think of when you hear his name. We do not ask that you forgive him, nor is this an attempt to get him rehired. We are simply voicing the opinion of so many of his students, and we want you to realize that Daeschler was a good man and a good teacher.
He has been punished for a grievous error in judgment, but do not let that define his time at Libertyville because, to his students, the man's flaws cannot crack who he is at his core. You have not been forgotten, Mr. Daeschler, and you can always know that you did more for the development of your students than you ever could have imagined.
• Clayton Kullander and Luke San are band members at Libertyville High School. This essay was signed by 45 other students. Jeffrey Daeschler was fired in January for having an "inappropriate physical relationship" with a female student, District 128 officials said.