Dr. Benjamin Irom, Professor of Music, has been named Temple College’s 2023-24 Claudia and W.T. Barnhart Outstanding Teacher of the Year.
lrom began teaching as an adjunct instructor in 2000 at Temple College. During his 23 years at the College, he has raised the level of the jazz program to national prominence. He and his groups have been featured performers at the International Association of Jazz Educators and the Jazz Educators Network conferences.
The Temple College Jazz Festival, under his direction, annually brings hundreds of middle and high school students to the campus. It also provides the community with affordable access to internationally-recognized headliners.
“Dr. lrom’s extraordinary effort on behalf of his students has created an environment where students feel empowered to challenge themselves and succeed academically and in performance,” said Dr. Sara Harris Baker, Temple College’s Dean of Fine Arts.
The Barnhart Award includes a $2,000 stipend and the honoree becomes Temple College’s nominee for the Minnie Stevens Piper Professor Award, which recognizes outstanding educators across the state. Irom will also be honored during the Temple College commencement ceremony in May.
“It is quite an honor to have been selected as this year’s Claudia and W.T. Barnhart Teacher of the Year,” Irom said. “While it is nice to be recognized for my work by my colleagues here at Temple College, the true reward comes from the success of my students, most of whom I have helped to nurture from day one of registration through to graduation. And I am fortunate enough to have maintained close friendships with those who have either gone on to other institutions of higher learning or are now practicing their skills in the workforce.”
One of the ways that lrom equips students for this success, Baker said, is by offering a weekly non-credit session where he helps students craft their improvisational skills. He also sponsors students in the Texas Community College Band Director’s Association All-State Jazz Band competition, and each year has students selected to the state’s top jazz ensemble for community college students.
Baker said Irom becomes a “Music Dad” to many of his students. He shepherds each music student through the process of completing their application and testing requirements, and personally registering them for classes. This involves calls, emails, texts, and answering myriad questions from parents and students.
Irom said he enjoys the time outside of the classroom when he’s able to work one-on-one with students to help them grow to be better musicians and navigate some of life’s challenges.
“I was lucky to have had instructors share that kind of time with me, and I get great satisfaction from being able to do the same for my students,” he said. “What I am doing is nothing new or exclusive. Throughout my 23 years here at Temple College, my level of attention paid to students was inspired by numerous amazing faculty and staff members across campus. I consider myself lucky to be teaching here at Temple College, and I’m proud of the impact we all make on our students and the community.”
Irom earned his Bachelor of Arts in Music from University of California, Santa Cruz; Master of Arts in Music from University of California, Los Angeles; and his Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition from University of Texas at Austin.
ABOUT TEMPLE COLLEGE
Temple College is “Your Community’s College,” a dynamic and growing community college that equips thousands of Central Texas students with the knowledge and skills for 21st-century success. Temple College, which has campuses in Temple, Hutto and Taylor, offers more than 75 degree and certificate programs to students who seek to earn credits for transfer, graduate with an associate degree or complete a certificate for fast entry into the workforce.
Founded in 1926, Temple College has enjoyed a reputation for academic excellence for 97 years. It is nationally recognized for its exceptional programs, from visual and performing arts to competitive athletics. The College has become one of the state’s premiere institutions for healthcare providers’ education and training, advanced manufacturing, and workforce development programs. The faculty and staff are committed to providing exceptional quality instruction.