The members of the Jacobs family are having quite a musical impact on Grand Island Public Schools.
Bobby Jacobs has been named the new orchestra director at Grand Island Senior High, where his father, John, is band director.
Bobby’s mother, Carla, teaches music at Lincoln and Knickrehm elementary schools. Bobby’s wife, Alyssa, taught choir at Barr Middle School for two years.
Bobby is in his third year as K-5 music teacher at Shoemaker Elementary. John Jacobs is in his second year at GISH.
“I am super-excited about him coming up here,” John said of his youngest son. “He’s a very, very talented young man. He’s going to bring a lot of energy to the program here.”
Bobby, 26, said he’s “over the moon” about the move. But he’s grown attached to his students at Shoemaker.
“I like teaching them, so it’s a little bitterwsweet. But I am very excited,” he said of his new job.
No matter what the age of his students, Bobby said his “main overall goal is just that they become better humans, that they learn to feel deeper and come to understand themselves and their peers and the world through the music that we learn.”
The cool thing about music “is that it’s shared in that kind of way,” he said. Through music, the students hopefully can grow as people and become better-rounded individuals.
Bobby’s wife is the former Alyssa Wetovick of Fullerton. They met at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where they were choral majors.
They are the parents of a girl named Lucy, who’s almost a year and a half. Their second child is due in June.
Bobby went to Hillgrove High School in Marietta, Ga. He was born in Columbia, S.C. The family moved around because John was in the military.
John spent 23 years in the Army as a musician. In Georgia, he was a member of the Army Ground Forces Band.
Bobby moved to Nebraska in 2014, graduating from UNK in 2017. Before getting the job at Schoemaker, he taught for a year at Lawrence-Nelson.
John and Carla are Aurora natives. He graduated from Aurora High School in 1981, she in 1983.
The family includes a prominent musician. Walt Jacobs, who is John’s father, plays in the Aurora Community Band. A trombonist, he will turn 88 in August.
The other members of the Jacobs family sometimes join him in the band. The family enjoys making music together, John said.
Guitar is Bobby Jacobs’ instrument of choice. “I always played the guitar in church and school and all that kind of stuff,” he said.
In high school, he played saxophone. At UNK, he became familiar with other instruments.
How does he feel about working with his father?
“It’s going to be a blast,” Bobby said. They’ve done gigs together since he was in middle school. John played drums and Bobby played guitar in a church band, at restaurants and in music shows.
“So we’re used to working with each other,” he said. The last couple of years, he helped his father with marching band at GISH.
John Jacobs taught from 1986 to 1988 after graduating from college. After retiring from the Army in 2011, he taught for three years in Marietta and then, back in Nebraska, five years in Minden.
Bobby Jacobs didn’t know music teaching was in his future until he was at UNK.
“I spent my first year in college as an engineering major,” he said. While in college, he coached gymnastics to bring in some income.
As a college student, he realized that “I really liked to teach and coach students.”
Bobby was a gymnast growing up.
He has demonstrated his gymnastic skills for his Shoemaker students more than once. He did a flip “for one of the videos we put together during virtual learning,” he said.
K-5 students are fun and energetic, Bobby said.
“Yeah, they tucker me out sometimes. And the best thing about them is that they are so open-minded about getting to learn different things, especially about music,” he said. “They don’t have much of a reference, since they’re so young, and so they’re open to learning anything and everything. That’s the most fun part for me, is that I can just teach about any kind of music and they’ll love it, and they’ll come to appreciate it.”
At GISH, Bobby Jacobs will take over for Kelly Coslet, who will be leaving the district to pursue a doctoral degree. He’ll start his new job this summer.
In a news release, Bobby said that teaching orchestra at GISH “is the opportunity of a lifetime. The students are extremely talented and the administration is incredibly supportive of the arts, so the sky’s the limit for our fine arts department. I am very lucky to have this job passed on to me from Ms. Coslet and I can’t wait to continue all that she has worked so hard to build with the GISH orchestras.”
In a press release, Grand Island Public Schools Superintendent Tawana Grover called the transition an exciting moment for GISH fine arts.
“I am looking forward to bringing in one of our very own to elevate our wonderful orchestra,” Grover said. “Fine arts has always been a big priority at GIPS, and we are looking for ways to maximize the experiences of our students.”
GISH Executive Principal Jeff Gilbertson thanked Coslet “for all that she’s done in her time at GISH. We wish her nothing but the best as she continues her academic and music career. I’m excited to welcome Bobby to GISH. His family has done amazing things for our district.”
John Jacobs “has been a phenomenal band director at GISH since 2019,” Gilbertson said in the release. “I’m excited for all that Bobby will bring to his new role and how he’ll shape our orchestra for years to come.”