Cougars of Clague: Henry Blackson-Pakela

Mr. Pakela is one of the Band Directors at Clague.

Courtesy of Henry Blackson-Pakela

Mr. Pakela is one of the Band Directors at Clague.

Rina Shitani

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

A: “ Well, I am one of the middle school Band Directors here at Clague, along with Mr. MacArthur. I also teach at King Elementary and Logan Elementary. I am in my third year here. I am originally from Ann Arbor, and grew up going to school on the west side of the city, before attending the University of Michigan School of Music to study to become both a music teacher and a performer. The pandemic unfortunately sidelined my performing, but I’ve been slowly getting back into playing trombone in different bands and groups!”

Q: What is your favorite class and why?

A: “All of my classes I teach are my favorite, and I mean that! It’s really cool to see students go from starting an instrument to playing some difficult music! Since I teach at King and Logan, I get to see some of my students start their instrument in the 5th grade!”

Q: What hobbies/sports/clubs do you do and why do you like them?

A: “I love to go on long walks, especially with my beagle pup Bea! I’ve also been getting into running- I actually ran my first half-marathon this summer! Lastly, I love playing video games- I’ve put a lot of time into my Switch since I first got it. I find it’s super important to have hobbies and time for your brain to relax outside of school/work.”

Q: What is one thing you have learned since the start of the pandemic?

A: “When the pandemic closed everything down, the only thing to do outside of my home was to just go outside and take a walk. While I generally like to run outside, I realized how great it was to do other things outside! It started with walks, but it then evolved into reading, watching sports, and hanging out with friends and family. This shift in my personal thinking has translated to reimagining where my classes can take place. In the spring, I advocated for Summer Music to be outdoors, and we were able to run an Instrumental Music Day Camp at Huron High School’s campus, where we used the building’s large arch as a full ensemble rehearsal space. At Clague, we’ve been going outside when the weather is nice to run sectionals and small groups, which has been a great change of scenery for both the students and the band teachers. I’m hoping we can continue to utilize the wonderful outdoor resources we have at Clague once the weather warms up!”

Q: What’s an interesting/unique fact about yourself?

A: “Before I became a teacher, I was actually a bus driver in college for U of M! Of my various jobs before I began my teaching career (barista, groundskeeper, music copyist, to name a few), it was definitely the most interesting of them- especially driving around in a city like Ann Arbor. I took the blue busses all over campus, from Domino Farms all the way down near the stadium. Imagine driving a 40′ vehicle around Michigan Stadium after a football game! Of course, being a musician, when I would park the bus during my break, I would use that time to practice my instrument- I always looked for time to practice trombone!”