What does it take to become a legend? In this issue of Halftime Magazine, we celebrate the following four “Legendary Band Directors” at the high school and collegiate levels.
- Darrin Davis, Broken Arrow (Oklahoma) High School
- George N. Parks, University of Massachusetts Amherst
- Greg Bimm, Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, Illinois
- Dr. David L. Walters, Jacksonville (Alabama) State University
The four of them combined have received four Sudler awards, nine Bands of America Grand National championships and marched in many prestigious parades, including the Tournament of Roses Parade, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and several presidential inaugurations.
After learning their stories, we noticed many similarities that exist for these individuals as well as other well-respected leaders.
Longevity. Never underestimate the power of persistence. All four of these influential leaders have stayed at their organizations for at least 20 years—Walters retired after 30 years, Parks had been at UMass for 33 years before his untimely death in 2010 while Bimm has 38 years under his belt at his current organization. In fact, for many of these educators, their current school was their first employer following their music degrees. Because of their longevity, they have typically built their programs from the ground up and have outlasted generations of students, parents and administrators.
Passion. No one enters the teaching profession—or the music industry—to get rich. Music educators, in particular, are a passionate bunch. Bimm puts it best: “I get to go to work every day doing what I absolutely love.”
Charisma. Leaders have magnetic personalities. At Jacksonville State, Walters was known by the drumline as “Uncle Dave.” And one commenter wrote that Davis and his staff “genuinely love the kids.” Parks welcomed his students with an open door policy and many inspirational “Starred Thoughts.”
Support. Going hand in hand with a friendly demeanor is the ability to garner support from others. No leader can do everything alone. Band directors, in particular, must win over their students as well as parents/boosters, community members, administrators, their own staff and fellow educators. In fact, many of the four individuals credit community support as a key component to achieving this recognition.
These and many other traits set genuine leaders apart from the masses. Congratulations to these four educators.
Go Be Great,
Christine Ngeo Katzman
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief