Nimitz High School alum Gunnar Tietge credits Irving ISD and his exposure to such diverse groups for shaping him into the man and teacher he is today. Born and raised in Irving, Tietge had a love for music before he could walk. So it’s no surprise that he currently serves the students of Austin Middle School as their choir teacher.
As a student at Lamar Middle School, Tietge initially had aspirations of becoming an architectural engineer to design roller coasters. But those plans quickly changed once he entered high school and joined the varsity choir his sophomore year under the direction of Dr. John Wayman.
“I fell in love with the class and the teacher,” he says. “Dr. Wayman made the class fun and inspiring.”
After graduating, Tietge continued his education at Wayland Baptist University as a music education major. Once he earned his degree in 2011, he began interviewing for teaching positions, one in New Mexico and another at Farine Elementary. At the time, there were budget freezes across the state of Texas, so his dream of teaching in Irving ISD seemed dim at first. But he stayed persistent and expressed his desire to serve the community that shaped him. Shortly after, Tietge began his career as the elementary music teacher at Farine – a position he held for four years. Not only did Farine present him with the opportunity to grow as an educator, he also discovered a new hobby – DJing.
The school decided to host a field day for the students, and Tietge was approached to play music during the event.
“After researching, I purchased some speakers and turntables for the event, and from that moment on, I was hooked,” he says.
He was such a huge hit that during the rest of his time at Farine, it became routine for him to act as the DJ for school events. As time went on, Tietge perfected his craft and word began to spread about his second talent. Pretty soon, he was DJing at weddings, like that of Irving ISD colleagues’ , Jackie and Will Long’s ceremony. Jackie Long was also a classmate of Tietge’s at Nimitz High School.
Whether working with students in the classroom or getting the audience pumped up on the dance floor, Tietge loves the energy emitted from those around him, which is one reason he’s excited to see all of his students this upcoming school year in person.
“I’m looking forward to making music together since we didn’t get a lot of opportunities last year with the full group,” says Tietge.
When speaking about his role as the choir teacher, he says it goes far beyond the classroom.
“My goal is to prepare students for the real world, no matter their career goals,” he adds.
Teachers wear many different hats, and Tietge says he wears them proudly. Not only does he enjoy his profession, but he loves being able to pour into the students of the community where he grew up. Above all else, he hopes to inspire his students and teach them life skills that will help them grow and be better people in society.
“I may not be able to instill the passion in all of my students to become a teacher, but if I have one student who wants to do it, I’ve done my job,” says Tietge.