They Walked These Halls: James Baum

Baum cut his musical teeth on RBs band and now has returned to be the director.

Courtesy of James Baum

Baum cut his musical teeth on RB’s band and now has returned to be the director.

Kiera Donnamario and Niko Radicanin

Graduating in 2003, James Baum has not been away from RB very long. While attending RB he was involved in the band program, led basketball game pep bands, and helped start the boys’ volleyball team. After leaving RB, Baum went on to Roosevelt University Chicago College of Performing Arts with a major in Music Education and a minor in Saxophone Performance.

The time between graduating college and starting his career in teaching was barely two hours.  Baum interviewed for his first, and so far only, job in teaching right here at RB on the same day as his graduation.  After his successful interview, he had the summer off to prepare for his first year of teaching.

When asked if he had ever pictured himself teaching at RB, Baum told us that he didn’t picture it at first, but as he went through training on becoming a teacher he saw himself teaching in RB. However he admitted that he was always hopeful there would be an opening here when he graduated.

“I lucked out,” Baum said. He began his teaching career here in 2007-2008 school year. “My first day here, it was weird to be peers with my mentors, and it’s still weird for me to call some of them by their first name.”

For teachers who he looked up to like Diane Marelli, it was and still is difficult for him to get on that first name basis. “It’s because I have so much respect for her,” he said.  Baum has maintained a close bond with other teachers like former Band Director Kevin McOlgan (now retired).

As for teaching here at RB, he loves it. He’s currently working in the Fine Arts Department as the director for Concert Band, Symphonic Band, Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Jazz Band, and Jazz Ensemble.

“Students and their attitudes may change, but the overall feeling the staff and students give off makes it an enjoyable place to be,” Baum said.