I met Patrick two years ago at Woodlawn High School when I first started volunteering with Desert Island Supply Co. I’ve seen him around the school, but we’ve never had an opportunity to have a conversation. I finally got to spend some time with him at Crestwood Coffee Company last week. We talked about our connections to this neighborhood, and we bonded over our love for Waffle House. (Doesn’t that mean we’re going to be friends for life?) Here’s a bit of our conversation:
How long have you been working at Woodlawn High School? Did you grow up in this area?
I was born and raised in Birmingham. My family lived in Crestwood North on 5th Court South. My parents still live in the house I grew up in. I’ve been working at Woodlawn High School since 2005, and I currently live in Roebuck.
What schools did you attend?
My earliest memories are from Avondale Elementary. I also went to Comer (located in Crestwood South where the Alabama Waldorf School and Community Education South are now) and to Putnam before starting at Woodlawn High School. After graduating from WHS, I went to Florida A&M.
What’s one of your fondest childhood memories?
I used to love swimming at Crestwood Park. I was on the swim team, so I spent a lot of time at that pool. I even placed first in the backstroke when I was 11 years old.
What do you like about this area? What is most bothersome?
I like that it’s quiet. And I guess this sounds shallow, but I hate it when people don’t clean up after their dogs.
What has changed the most in this area over the course of your lifetime?
My parents’ neighborhood used to be a black community. There are just a few families who have been there my whole life. Everyone else moved away.
What is no longer in the neighborhood that you wish still was?
The grocery store that used to be in the Crestwood Shopping Center.
If you could fill up the empty retail space on First Avenue North in downtown Woodlawn, what would you put there?
I think the neighborhood needs some kind of education center for residents who want job training or help getting their GED.
When did you first pick up an instrument? What instruments do you play?
I started playing the saxophone in 4th grade. In 9th grade I added the oboe and trombone. I now can play all instruments except the guitar and piano.
Describe a typical day at work.
Well, I teach kids all day. I lead the marching band, jazz band and symphonic band.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
My students. They are a great group of kids. And they are very talented. They consistently receive superior ratings at the various evaluations we attend in Birmingham and across the state.
What have your students taught you since you’ve been at WHS?
Some students may act like they’re not interested in being in my classes at first, but they always come around and end up really enjoying learning and playing music. So I guess that’s taught me to be patient, and it’s taught me that there is power in music. They also keep me up to date on the latest technology has to offer. Things sure have changed since I was in high school.
What items are on your wish list for the WHS band program?
This is an easy one. I’d love to have the money for 100 new uniforms. Depending on the quality of the material, this could run anywhere from $30,000 – $70,000. It would also be great to have money for additional instruments for our band students.
How do you like to spend your free time?
I like going to the gym and reading. I’ve been reading a lot of books lately about history and issues related to race. I’m currently reading Destruction of the Black Civilization and Message to the Blackman.
Who are some of your favorite musicians?
I listen to all types of music. I like pop, old school, r&b, rock, jazz and classical. Some of my favorites include R. Kelly, Al Green and Katy Perry.
What are some of your favorite restaurants?
Waffle House, Smoothie King in Homewood and the Ruby Tuesday in Roebuck. I also love my mom’s liver and rice.
If you were going to be stuck on a desert island, what would you want with you?
Well, I’d definitely be focused on survival, so I’d want drinking water, communication to the rest of the world, some sort of self-defense mechanism, access to food and some seeds I could plant, and a female companion.