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Thomas Saunders – Rocky Mountain Junior High

My name is Lance Velasquez and I have two daughters that attend Rocky Mountain Junior High (RMJH) in Roy, Utah. There is a Choir Teacher at RMJH that is nothing short of amazing. Neither of my girls had the slightest interest in Choir until they met Mr. Thomas Saunders. His commitment and enthusiasm to the children is not only reflected in the concerts he produces but in his heartfelt dedication to the students. I am a three -year Pancreatic Cancer Survivor. As you can imagine being a parent with the disease has been very complicated and very difficult for our young children to deal with. Although he has never talked to me directly about the disease I know in my heart that Mr. Saunders has encouraged my girls to acknowledge and accept the disease in distinctive ways. For example, one of their projects was to write a short story on whom the children’s hero is. My daughters selected their dad as their hero. The kids had the option to read the note in front of the class. As you would expect my children are very sensitive about the ordeal. In another exhibit of the class Mr. Saunders has he did not make them read theirs. I can only imagine the courage Mr. Saunders raised in all the kids by asking them to write their hero’s story! Although the letters were written awhile ago when I get feeling a little down in the dumps, I stop and take the time to read them. I have been through chemotherapy and 35 sessions of radiation. It seems like the best treatment I have ever had is the strength my children gave me in their letters. Personally, my family and I are indebted to Mr. Saunders for being an incredible source of strength and leader of our children. I guess what shocks me the most is there are so many things he does for the children that are unrelated to his requirements of choir.

My parents were fortunate enough to go and see one of Mr. Saunders concerts when my wife and I were out of town. The girls Grandparents were shocked at how good the concert was! They remarked on the instructor, Mr. Saunders how he managed to deem so much respect from the kids. If you ever get a chance to see one of his choir concerts you should certainly take advantage of it! You will not quickly forget it.

On another note, I am very fortunate to occasionally pick my kids up from school. As you would expect they often ask me to give their friends a ride home. As the girls talk about their day it astonishes me how much respect and regard the students have for Mr. Saunders. When our girls have friends over to the house they speak so highly of him. In today’s world and the challenges our children have my wife and I am so grateful for teachers like Mr. Saunders! I am sure that numerous parents would agree Mr. Saunders deserves an A+ as a teacher!

–Lance Velasquez