Dr. Thomas C. Polett

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Dr. Polett is in his second full year as director of bands at Aquinas College. In addition to his teaching duties, he directs the Aquinas Summer Jazz Camp and performs in west Michigan with a number of groups, including the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra. Previous to that, he spent more than 20 years as a professor of music at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri, teaching low brass instruments and directing the jazz studies program. He also spent 18 years as a core faculty member at the Missouri Fine Arts Academy. Dr. Polett earned his bachelor’s degree from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, his master’s degree from Arizona State University and his doctorate degree from the University of Georgia. He has taught and performed throughout North America and Europe. Dr. Polett appears frequently in the Midwest as a clinician, soloist, adjudicator and conductor.

In addition to directing the Aquinas Concert Band and Jazz Ensemble, he coordinates the department’s music education program, teaching methods courses and observations of student teachers. He also teaches modern analytical techniques and the instrumentation/orchestration courses in the music theory curriculum. Other courses taught include history of popular music, history of jazz, first-ear experience and studio trombone lessons. He looks to expand the great regional acclaim for the band programs and the strong reputation for preparing music educators by expanding, not only in numbers of students, but in a widening sphere within Michigan and beyond.

Doc Tom (as he is known to his students) and his wife Jane are thrilled to be starting this new chapter in Grand Rapids, especially as members of the Aquinas family. Jane is the general manager of the Quincy Symphony Orchestra Association in Quincy, Illinois, and a professional violinist in several Midwest orchestras. They are extremely proud of their three children – Laura, a music therapist in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Sarah, an elementary/pre-K teacher in Nashville, Tennessee; and Matthew, a band and choir teacher in Grayville, Illinois.

Dr. Polett has been overwhelmed by the support he has received from all of his colleagues at Aquinas. The students and alumni have been very impressive as well. It is clear that Aquinas is a transformative place that helps to mold people who live a life “focused on leadership and service to others,” as stated in the mission statement of our school.