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Inspiring Conversations with Kevan Hester of School of Rock

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kevan Hester.

Hi Kevan, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I repatriated to the States from South Korea, where I had been living and working for 14 years as an English teacher. I always wanted to run a business, and I figured since my forte was education, I’d open something related to that. I looked at several education franchises, then fortuitously I was contacted by someone from School of Rock.

Around that time, my first son (he was seven at the time) expressed interest in taking guitar lessons. I enrolled him at a local music instrument store that also offered lessons, but he was basically stuck in a closet in the back of the shop, and he just didn’t enjoy the lessons. I tried to enroll him at a proper music school, but they were all booked up. That’s when I realized there might be something to this School of Rock thing.

I contacted School of Rock corporate, and they invited me to fly up to their headquarters in Chicago to get the lowdown. While there, we also attended Summer Fest, which is the largest music festival in the States. Each summer, the best of the best from School of Rock students get to perform there in front of thousands of audience members. When I saw them play and the sheer joy they seemed to feel, I knew that School of Rock was special. Sign me up!

Our school opened in March 2015, and we’ve been growing ever since. At our peak (right before COVID hit), we had over 200 students enrolled. Luckily, we were able to transition to online lessons pretty quickly after the lockdown, and once again our student count is growing like wildfire.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The biggest struggle (besides COVID) is awareness. In the northeast, School of Rock has been a major presence since the early 2000’s. However, when I opened SOR here in Cary, we were just the second School of Rock in North Carolina (the first was in Charlotte). Now, there are over a dozen and the number keeps growing. Luckily, thanks to social media and word of mouth, more folks know about School of Rock and what a great program it is.

As you know, we’re big fans of School of Rock. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
School of Rock was created by Paul Green way back in the late 90s. A lot of folks ask me if the concept of School of Rock was based off the movie of the same name, but actually it’s the opposite! The movie was based off Paul Green and his first school which he ran in Philadelphia. The main concept was that students enjoy music lessons when they’re playing music they like, and especially when they play together in a band.

When I was a teen, if you wanted music lessons to learn rock instruments like guitar, bass, drums, etc. it was nearly impossible to find a teacher. Everything was based on classical music. Paul Green recognized that kids get energized to study and practice their instruments when they’re interested in the subject matter, so he focused on teaching rock and roll. He also made sure his students had the opportunity to play in a band because nothing gives you that awesome feeling of accomplishment as working together with a team to pull off an amazing song or show.

School of Rock revolutionized the concept of teaching through performance, and the value of our programs and amazing teachers has allowed SOR to grow to over 300 schools and 35,000 students all over the world. We’ve got an amazing corporate staff who respect the input of school owners and teachers. School of Rock owners and teachers across the globe are some of the coolest, most fun, and intelligent people I’ve had the pleasure of working with.

Have you learned any interesting or important lessons due to the Covid-19 Crisis?
COVID has taught us a few things. First, you’ve got to be flexible. Thanks to our corporate office, most schools around the world were able to transition from 100% in-person lessons to 100% remote lessons in a matter of weeks. It wasn’t always the smoothest transition, but almost everyone had a great attitude about it and worked hard to get it done.

COVID has also reinforced our commitment to providing a safe environment for our students and staff. Luckily, since we’ve gone back to in-person lessons, members and teachers have been very understanding when it comes to rules we have in place (such as mask wearing, social distancing, etc.) to keep everyone safe.


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