Tim Clemmons may not write the songs that make the whole world sing like his teen idol Barry Manilow. However, the 48-year-old chorus singer wrote the song he makes his whole class sing.

In college, Clemmons, the 2008 Cullman City Schools teacher of the year, penned a ditty called “The Frog Song.” Since then, Clemmons has taught the song to thousands of students at West and East Elementary schools where he teaches.

“I have adults come up and say, ‘I still remember ‘The Frog Song’,” said Clemmons, who will be honored at a March 17 Board of Education meeting.

Clemmons said the other two teachers up for the award were equally deserving of the kudos.

“I just didn’t give myself a chance at all,” Clemmons said. “There’s so many great teachers in the system.”

Clemmons said he believes compassion and caring in the classroom is as important as the information in his lessons.

“So much of teaching is not what you know, but that the kids know you care about them,” Clemmons said.

In his free time, Clemmons said he continues to write music for fun.

“If I’m not teaching music, I’m writing music,” said Clemmons who also plays the piano. “I just love it.”

Clemmons earned his bachelor’s degree in music education at The University of North Alabama before earning a Master’s from Jacksonville State University.

He also learned a lot about the subject from Don Williamson, who taught chorus at Cullman High School when Clemmons was in school there.

“He was a real neat role model for me,” Clemmons said. “He made me think ... maybe I could be a chorus director.”

Clemmons also wondered if he could make it as a musical superstar like Manilow.

“When I was in high school, i identified with Barry Manilow because he was a piano player and he sang, and that’s kind of what I wanted to do,” said Clemmons.

Since graduating, Clemmons has taught in Cullman with the exception of two years when he took a sabbatical to teach music to military families in Germany — an experience that allowed him the opportunity to see the homeplaces of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig Van Beethoven — two of his other musical heroes.

Clemmons said music education is important because of its effect in other areas of the classroom. “Studies have shown children who are in music (education) .. .tend to do better on standardized testing,” said Clemmons who added they also have a higher graduation rate.

“Music is based on math,” Clemmons said explaining why music students tend to do well in classes like calculus and geometry.

“It really behooves administrators to make sure they have a quality music program,” Clemmons said.

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