KAYSVILLE — Parked outside the Davis High School band room is a red Charger with a unique license plate inscription: BAND MAN. The car belongs to band director Steven Hendricks, and all his students know it.
"'Band Man.' That's like his handle for everything," said senior band student Octavio Ruiz, 18.
The license plate moniker isn't the only title Hendricks is known for. In a surprise announcement on Tuesday, the Davis School District named Hendricks as the Teacher of the Year during a special assembly at Davis High School.
The announcement was followed by thunderous applause from hundreds of high school students and teachers gathered in the school auditorium. Facing the student body, Hendricks wiped tears from his eyes and smiled.
"I'm shocked, I don't know what else to say," he said. "This was unexpected. I didn't have any clue."
In addition to the nomination, the district partnered with Young Automotive Group and Goldenwest Credit Union to award Hendricks with a one-year lease and insurance coverage on a Kia Forte EX.
"I'm blown away," Hendricks said with a laugh. "I had no idea."
Hendricks works as the band director at Davis High School. For the past 28 years, he directed the marching band, jazz band, concert band, symphonic band and wind ensemble band.
High school senior Michael Nielsen, 18, has played the saxophone in every band group since he started with the marching band in ninth grade.
"There’s a lot of things that I learned from band," he said. "One thing that really stuck with me is a quote that we all make fun of, but it’s a very accurate quote: ‘What would this band be if everyone in it was just like me?’ It’s kind of teaching us that there’s nothing better than to seek perfection."
Hendricks was also awarded the Davis CARE award, the district’s top employee recognition program. The district chooses the Teacher of the Year from among CARE award winners.
"He makes you feel welcome. We call band our second home," Ruiz said. "The most important thing I learned from him is don’t give up on anyone, including yourself."
Advanced Placement math teacher Tracey Meade and retired Davis High teacher Michael Shaw nominated Hendricks for the Teacher of the Year award.
"He loves those kids, and they never question that," Meade said. "There’s never a question that he loves them and wants what’s best for them."
Band student sophomore Dexter Smith, 16, agrees.
"He cares so much about each individual more than some students care about themselves, you know?" he said. "It’s really cool how much he cares. It’s crazy to think that someone could have so much room in their lives to care for so many different people."
During the same assembly, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox recognized Davis High School as the top AP school in the state. He presented students with the Governor’s Traveling AP Trophy, a 100-year-old book of the history of Utah on a wooden mount. The trophy will be housed at Davis High School.
Davis High has the highest number of students in the state take AP tests. Nearly 730 students took AP tests in 2016, with a pass rate of 90.9 percent — third highest rate in the state.