School of Rock Supports Community and Family in Media

Photos courtesy of Flashlight Marketing

After seeing firsthand the impact School of Rock could have on growing children, Jeff Dulemba decided to open his own outpost.

Jeff Dulemba’s son Ben was struggling. At 10 years old, Ben already had three Individualized Education Programs, had been kicked out of school and was having trouble articulating and making friends. Between Ben and Dulemba’s daughter, Rachel, who was also battling her own demons in the form of depression, parents Jeff and Monica were straining to manage by the time COVID-19 hit.

The family made it through the ordeal via months of therapy, but on the other side of COVID-19, Dulemba knew his kids were rudderless. Rachel quickly found her calling in musical theater, but Ben had loved the time away from other people. Without the need for personal interactions, he had retreated even further away from society. On a whim, Dulemba decided to enroll Ben in School of Rock. For both father and son, it was perhaps the best decision they had ever made.

Though Dulemba was no professional musician, his history with music made the School of Rock seem like an obvious choice in hindsight.

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Nearly 30 years earlier, Dulemba had finally moved out of his parents’ house and was experiencing something of a musical revolution. Having spent his youth following his older sister’s musical tastes, mostly consisting of Bon Jovi, he had a revelation when he first listened to “Cherub Rock” by the Smashing Pumpkins.

“I went out and bought a guitar and I went, ‘I will learn this song,’” he recalls.

Two months later, after days and nights spent practicing, trying to learn the notes by ear without tablature, Dulemba was able to play his favorite song on guitar. 

“[I] couldn’t play it enough times,” he says.

Over the next several decades, Dulemba spent time in and out of cover bands, but never had any experience with his eventual future at School of Rock. They were never his priority due to the intense work he did in talent acquisition. Moving as account executive at T-Mobile to senior vice president of global recruiting at ADP and finally to a roll as senior vice president of talent acquisition at Adecco Staffing, Dulemba thought his career was settled.

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On Christmas Eve 2017, he received a phone call from his boss. Just a year after he had been heavily recruited, he was being laid off. His boss called him because, “he wanted to give me time to return all my Christmas presents,” Dulemba remembers.

That was Dulemba’s last interaction with corporate from an employee standpoint. From that point on, he would make decisions from a management position and, just two months later in February 2017, Dulemba founded LoveMyJob, a new talent acquisition firm. 

Though he was now in a position where he couldn’t be treated poorly by higher-ups, after working through 48,000 to 60,000 hires every year for half a dozen years, he was beginning to burn out. Not only were the ebbs and flows of recruiting unfulfilling, his grandparents had passed away during COVID, and the sense of belonging and community that they had given him were so unceremoniously stripped away.

With his grandparents no longer in his life, and the community he was born into now gone, Dulemba had to create his own.

One day, sitting in the lobby of the Downingtown School of Rock, waiting for the end of his son’s class, Dulemba began to focus on his own mental health. For so long he had been concerned with the lives of his children that he had neglected to ensure his own mental wellbeing.

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At that point, Rachel excelled in theater and Ben was shredding at the Ardmore Music Hall and World Cafe in front of audiences that Dulemba’s cover bands never dreamed of drawing. 

Dulemba began to think about his sense of purpose. How could he give back to the Main Line and western suburbs communities that had given so much to him?

The answer was obvious; he would build his own School of Rock.

He and his family made a list of the different towns and communities they would consider for their proposal. First on the list were Collegeville, Lancaster, Pottstown, York and Media. The family went to grab breakfast in Media and maybe check out the town center, but by 9 p.m., they still hadn’t left. So enthralled with the town, they knew where their School of Rock would be.

Months later amid construction heads, sub-contractors walking off-site and weeks of delays, Dulemba couldn’t handle it anymore, and he sat down and cried. Concerned, his wife came over to him concerned and asked, besides the obvious, what was wrong?

“Oh no, this isn’t about the sub-contractor,” he recalls saying. “A mom just hugged me five years from now and told me that I saved her kid’s life.”

That’s what School of Rock did for Ben, Dulemba believes, and what he hopes his school will do for future generations.

“The music tamed the wild beast,” he says about his son. Once the kid who had trouble interacting with others his age and got kicked out of school, today Ben is on the honor roll.

The Dulemba School of Rock opens August 28 and offers classes for anyone ages eight and up (adults included) looking to rekindle their love of music or pick up an instrument for the first time.

Dulemba believes that it’s important for kids to try different things and find what they love. And for parents who are worried about their children not liking School of Rock or being apprehensive about the program, Dulemba notes that it’s entirely alright.

“That’s okay if they don’t [like it]. The school will always be open to you and you’ll always be welcome here.” 

School of Rock Delco
509 E. Baltimore Pke., Ste. 523, Media

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