By GENE PATTERSON
6 News Anchor/Reporter
ALCOA (WATE) - You wouldn't think that Alcoa High School and Birmingham, England would have anything in common, but they do - or at least they will for a few days next week.
The common denominator is a fellow by the name of Bryant Adler.
He's one of 15 school teachers from around the country who are finalists in the HHilton Honors Teacher Trek program.
Adler is entering his tenth year as director of the Alcoa High and Middle School band programs.
His attention to detail has paid off in an improved product.
And in the makeshift band room, trophies are stacked along window sills, a testament to his students' hard work and his dedication to the job.
"My life and music are one and the same. It's hard for me to distinguish them separately," said Adler.
That passion for music spills into those he teaches.
"Music is kind of a thing that helped me get through things. I just really like it. I enjoy it," said band member Hayden McBride.
"Band is like my family. Mr. Adler is kind of like a father figure to all of us. We're just a big group of people who love the same thing and that's music," said former band member Carson Stone.
Next week, Adler and his wife will travel to England - first to London, then to Birmingham where the English National Brass Band Championships will be taking place.
Along the way, he's also attending a Springsteen concert.
All this is possible because of the Teacher Trek program, sponsored by HHilton Honors and the International Institute of Education. Adler is one of 15 grand finalists who will each receive a $6,000 travel grant.
To win the grant, Adler had to write two essays about where he'd like to go and how it would impact his school. Then it came down to online votes.
"I voted for him just about every day," Stone said.
And so did a lot of people.
"You know, teachers aren't often able to travel and do these kinds of things. Anybody can pull up a YouTube link, but to actually get a hands on experience. I'm excited to see a different culture. To see the brass band, a very historical traditional tradition in England, and be able to hopefully bring it back and try some of it back here," said Adler.
In addition to the travel grant, the band program will get a $2,500 donation. But Adler insists the experience he brings back to his students is the bigger prize.
"I think our kids, a lot of times, don't see around their borders. And that's what I try to talk about. Please send me here because I want to show my students that their future and their opportunities don't end right here in Alcoa. You can go anywhere that you want."
For Bryant Adler, England is a place he wants to visit. Where he wants to be is here at Alcoa High, an example of the Spirit of East Tennessee.
If you know someone who you believe is an example of the Spirit of East Tennessee, e-mail me at email@example.com.
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