Zach Morita takes a very real world, very experiential and progressive approach to music education at Niu Valley Middle School on the east side of Oahu in Hawaiʻi. His students commission musical scores from local artists, compete in Olympic events, collaborate with local chamber music ensembles and much, much more. Listen as Zach and I explore the DNA of music appreciation and exploration, his approach to project-based learning and portfolio assessments, and why his philosophy of teaching and learning music, and life moved me emotionally. Zach is in his 12th year as a music teacher at Niu Valley Middle School. He is a recent winner of the 2018 Farmers Insurance $100,000 Dream Big Teacher Challenge. Zachary has taken student performance groups to New York, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Texas. In the summer of 2019, the Niu Valley Middle School Concert Band performed at the Australian International Music Festival in the Sydney Opera House. He has conducted and directed student groups at the 2017 New York Wind Band Festival in Carnegie Hall, the 2016 National Conference on Percussion Pedagogy, the 2014 American School Band Directors Association Conference, and the 2012 Winter Guard International Percussion World Championships. Active in the Hawaii music community, Zach is past Treasurer and ongoing Solo/Ensemble Chairperson for the Oahu Band Directors Association, Associate Music Director of the Honolulu Wind Ensemble, and President/Founder of the Hawaii Youth Percussion Ensemble. Zachary is sponsored by Zildjian Cymbals, Vic Firth Sticks & Mallets, Grover Pro Percussion, and Pearl/Adams Musical Instruments. This is quite a resume for someone just getting started in his teaching career. Send feedback to me, your host, Josh Reppun at MLTSinHawaii@gmail.com.