Arts education changed the course of Dr. Fedrick Ingram’s life.

In ninth grade, while living in housing projects in Miami, Ingram, a saxophone player, planned to enlist in the military. But his band director, William McKenzie, saw an “academic way” about him and encouraged him to go to college, becoming the first in his family to do so.

Now, more than 30 years later, Ingram still talks to that band director, calling him one of his closest friends — and he followed in his footsteps. Prior to his current role as the secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of Teachers, Ingram was a high school band director, and he also developed close relationships with his students.

“Those are the relationships where they’ve become a surrogate father and mother,” Ingram says. “These are people who help our children in their most vulnerable spaces.”

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