Mr. Lustig Retires After 25 Years of Teaching at Townsend Harris, Kevin Heathwood Steps In As Replacement

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Band director Peter Lustig quietly retired from his position at the end of the 2017-2018 school year. Students received an unexpected email from him mid-summer informing them of his decision.

Mr. Lustig began teaching at Townsend Harris twenty-five years ago and has since brought the jazz band, beginning band, intermediate band, and concert band to new heights.

He only had one class a day, but even through this disadvantage in terms of working with students, he made students really good from beginner band to intermediate to concert to jazz band…that was very impressive,” said chorus teacher Mariko Sato.

Many of his students also admired his teaching style and his ability to make his class an enjoyable experience. Sophomore Kevin Baijoo commented, “He was probably one of the funniest teachers that I had last year. Mr. Lustig’s class was always fun to go to and he did an extremely good job at making everyone laugh and have a good time.”

“It’s clear that he enjoys teaching because seeing students go from lousy players to adequate is actually remarkable. Music is what makes Mr. Lustig, Mr. Lustig,” added Sophomore Kristine Kong.

Although his departure was sudden, it was not entirely unexpected.Senior Nathan Fredere recalls that he was “a little surprised at first” but “not completely shocked.”

Replacing him this year is Kevin Heathwood, who previously taught at MS 180 in the Bronx and is currently in his tenth year of teaching. Using what Mr. Lustig left behind as a foundation, he plans to increase the performance count for each band and broaden their exposure by traveling out of state to play at bigger events such as NYSSMA. He admits, “I was timid walking in because sometimes you walk into a new place, and you want to do all this stuff, and there is a lot of resistance, but I’m not getting that from this group, these bands.” He made it evident that he feels comfortable, stating, “It’s been a very warm welcome for me so far.”

While Mr. Lustig will be missed by many, Mr. Heathwood’s plans suggest a promising future for THHS bands.