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.