The Wackerman family is proud to honor Chuck’s memory and legacy with the establishment of a scholarship program at Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA). Approximately 10% of the school's 2,200 talented students live below the national poverty level, and about 45% are in need of some financial assistance to help with the costs of their arts training. The Chuck Wackerman Memorial Scholarship will provide financial support to jazz students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Every dollar donated to the Chuck Wackerman Memorial Scholarship is an investment in the future of a gifted young student with limited resources. This is undoubtedly something that would have meant a great deal to Chuck considering his tremendous commitment to helping students succeed. In lieu of flowers and in memory of Chuck, the Wackerman family asks that you consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Chuck Wackerman Memorial Scholarship to support deserving students in need.

To make a contribution in memory of Chuck, please click on the button below or scroll to the bottom of this page.

To honor Chuck’s incredible commitment to OCSA and to thousands of students over 65+ years in education, OCSA will proudly rename its top jazz combo in memory of Chuck. More information to follow regarding a jazz concert during the 2022-2023 year when we will officially rename this ensemble in perpetuity to celebrate Chuck’s remarkable impact and legacy.

About Chuck Wackerman

Charles “Chuck” Wackerman was a dedicated jazz educator for over 60 years. His passion and commitment to excellence never waned throughout his legendary career. Chuck served as a trumpeter in the Air Force’s 562nd band during the Korean War. As a drummer, he studied under industry legends including Roy Hart, Chuck Flores, and Murray Spivak. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees from University of Southern California where he studied music theory and education.

Known as “Mr. Wackerman” he taught all over Orange County providing musical inspiration to thousands of students in grades 3 through 12. In 1957 he was hired by the Seal Beach School District, which later unified with Los Alamitos, to teach at McGaugh Elementary. He quickly became a beloved colleague and a renowned music educator in the community.

Chuck was instrumental in the establishment of the jazz program at OCSA, where he originated the curriculum as the school’s first jazz band director. After 59 years teaching in the Los Alamitos School District, he returned to OCSA to teach in the Garn Family Jazz Studies Program from 2016-2020. In 2018, Chuck proudly led the OCSA Jazz Ensemble to first place at the prestigious International Reno Jazz Festival. He had traveled to the renowned festival nearly 40 times. With his inspirational teaching and strong motivation, he led his bands to countless wins at jazz festivals throughout the years.

Chuck received numerous Educator of the Year awards – from Fullerton Jazz Festival, K-Jazz Radio Station, and Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at California State University, Long Beach. In 2012 he was awarded the Irene Schoepfle Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contributions to Music Education by the Orange County Music & Arts Administrators. He was also inducted into the California Alliance for Jazz Hall of Fame.

Chuck was married to Barbara Anne (Coleman) Wackerman for over 50 years and they had four sons who have all risen to the top of the music industry. He made an immeasurable impact on his students through his patience, kindness, and dedication. He had an ability to see potential in every student even when they didn’t recognize it in themselves.