Claudia Taylor “Woman Chook” Johnson Excessive College in San Antonio, Texas, opened in 2008 because the seventh complete highschool within the North East Impartial College District (NEISD).
I’m fortunate to be Johnson’s band director because the college opened, and I’ve labored enthusiastically with our employees and group to develop the music program. I began instructing at Johnson my first yr out of faculty, so I’ve “grown up” with the campus, and it has been a outstanding journey to see so many lives modified coming via the college’s band program.
As a result of Johnson was constructed on high of one of many tallest hills in Bexar County, the group dubbed it the “Metropolis on the Hill.” The campus is colourful and vibrant to match the wildflowers that Mrs. Johnson shared with the nation as first girl. (There’s a Woman Chook Johnson Wildflower Middle on the College of Texas at Austin.) The college opened with about 1,800 college students, splitting from Ronald Reagan Excessive College after receiving approval from the group in a 2005 bond. I used to be a student-teacher at Reagan in 2007, the yr previous to the break up, and helped navigate the transition for Johnson’s band members from Day One with my buddy, mentor and colleague, Alan Sharps, who just lately retired after 40 years of instructing. Collectively, we opened and established the Johnson program.
an explosion of inhabitants on the northside of San Antonio, the NEISD 2005 bond aimed to alleviate stress on Reagan, which had a capability of three,000 college students, however enrollment was approaching 4,000. The preliminary plans for Johnson supplied for a capability of three,000 college students, however throughout building, directors accredited a further wing that expanded capability to three,200. The brand new campus included a 4,000-square-foot music rehearsal corridor.
Due to unprecedented rainstorms in 2006, campus building fell delayed. Johnson opened in 2008, however with solely 70% of the campus operational. The cafeteria, athletic fields, auditorium, library and lots of the lecture rooms weren’t purposeful till Christmas.
Nevertheless, the present should go on! For our 2008 band camp, the Johnson band rehearsed at neighboring James Madison Excessive College, and we rapidly realized that the sphere was inundated with hearth ants. The youngsters remained optimistic and had a terrific humorousness as they dodged the ant mounds, and the dad and mom labored to remove the menace, however the hearth ants proved to be worthy adversaries over our two-week camp.
Via most of that first college yr, college students labored via the challenges of continued building and a less-than-smooth transition to their new campus, however they maintained the easiest perspective. I believe the challenges of Johnson’s first yr created our tradition of flexibility and adaptiveness, which, 12 years later throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, proved to be invaluable traits to assist the band win its first state championship within the face of great adversity.
Lower than 10 years after Johnson opened, the college’s music program had grown a lot that it required a brand new corridor. Throughout this time, the campus had doubled its instrument stock however wanted extra, and music employees expanded from three full-time band administrators to 4.
Johnson efficiently obtained group help, and in 2018, building started on a further $2 million, 3,500-square-foot band corridor subsequent to the campus’ present facility.
Achieve Assist by Educating Directors and the Neighborhood
When pursuing something that includes asking for funding — extra services, tools, staffing, and so forth. — I discover that the one most vital piece of the puzzle is to patiently educate stakeholders. Directors and fogeys could or could not notice your wants till they will see them spelled out clearly with information and supporting information.
By analyzing different districts with related demographics and studying from others, we have been in a position to entice stakeholders to see the worth in our proposal. We shared excellent news about our program’s accomplishments and demonstrated the worth of the monetary funding, which helped help a growth-minded imaginative and prescient. We started the method by sharing information and proof after which adopted up patiently and persistently. With time, the Johnson band administrators efficiently made their case for growth.
District’s Guiding Precept: Fairness
NEISD is a socioeconomically and ethnically various district that spans over 144 sq. miles on the northcentral and northeast aspect of San Antonio. The district was fashioned in 1950 and has grown from one highschool to seven, 14 center colleges and over 40 elementary colleges that serve almost 68,000 college students.
Fairness is the guideline for the college district. At any time when the district builds a brand new college, it additionally targets one of many older colleges for additions or demolition and reconstruction. During the last twenty years, NEISD has rebuilt from the bottom up two of its authentic excessive colleges and considerably added to or reworked 4 different colleges, together with Reagan, which opened in 1999.
The district has additionally torn down and reconstructed a number of growing old center colleges to supply new educational wings, and nice arts and athletic services. District planners and leaders meet yearly with campus directors and group members on the (CBAC) to establish new or alternative building priorities and plan a imaginative and prescient for these subsequent upgrades. In different phrases, by the point building is wrapping up on one bond, the district is already getting ready to drift one other to handle wants and enhance the expertise of its college students.
Historically, when floating a brand new bond, the district approaches a “want listing” that focuses on seven classes, 5 bodily building and two associated to bond administration:
- Security and safety
- Tutorial expertise
- District operations
- Extracurricular Packages (athletics and nice arts)
- District Amenities
- District Bond program administration (monetary administration)
- Bond International Contingencies (monetary administration)
Johnson’s new band corridor fell into class #4. Right here is the breakdown and challenge listing from the 2015 bond:
The ten-12 months Progress of Johnson’s Band
When Johnson opened in 2008, the band corridor was constructed based mostly on the mannequin utilized in different district excessive colleges. The three,904-square-foot constructing had a capability of 195 college students. Johnson additionally boasted a smaller “ensemble” classroom with a further capability of 38 college students. The services have been enough for the band dimension of 150 in 2008 and will comfortably accommodate as much as 200-250 college students.
12 months 1, 2008-2009 — 150 college students in band: The band opened with smaller junior and senior courses that have been break up from Reagan, a heathy-sized sophomore class (40-50) blended from Reagan and and a powerful incoming freshman class from Tejeda Center College (50-60).
12 months 2, 2009-2010 — 190 college students: With a small senior class graduating from the yr earlier than, the band added one other wholesome freshman class and quickly approached 200 college students.
Years 3 to five, 2010-2013 — 220 college students: With a single center college feeder, the Johnson band stabilized at round 220 complete college students with 4 full courses that ranged in dimension from 40 to 60 college students in every grade. Progress had stagnated within the North San Antonio space as a result of financial downturn of 2008-2009, and the college enrollment remained flat at round 2,500 college students.
Through the fall of 2011, NEISD narrowly handed a bond that included the development of the district’s 14th center college, which might be a second devoted feeder for Johnson. The development of the brand new center college was controversial as a result of a number of of the center colleges surrounding Johnson had loads of capability, and progress within the North San Antonio space was moderately flat to unfavorable.
Happily for the Johnson band, the development meant a brand new infusion of numbers and expertise. As a substitute of 300 college students in a single center college band, future projection fashions confirmed 550 to 600 college students in two center college bands.
Years 4 to eight, 2013-16 — 260 college students: Because the financial system recovered, building of latest properties within the Johnson attendance zone started to develop progressively. Tex Hill opened within the fall of 2014, simply three years after the bond handed to construct the campus.
Within the fall of 2013, the Johnson band exceeded 250 college students, and rehearsing all the marching band collectively indoors grew to become unimaginable. The band began using orchestra, choir and any obtainable areas within the nice arts wing throughout the college day.
Our colour guard numbered 40 members for the 2013-2014 college yr, and all the workforce couldn’t rehearse inside the present band corridor resulting from house constraints. With the campus rising, health club house was at a premium, and our colour guard usually needed to break up into two teams to rehearse. Half of the flag college students could be inside with the colour guard director; the opposite half was exterior, rehearsing with scholar management and a band director supervising.
After Hill opened, Tejeda continued to flourish, and projections based mostly on retention and the 2014 dimension of the sixth-grade class between the 2 center colleges confirmed that the Johnson band would attain 350 college students inside three years.
We shared the 2014 projections that forecasted that the incoming Sixth-grade band class would almost double — from 100 newcomers to 200 — and demonstrated the down-the-line affect on Johnson Excessive College’s band program.
We initially requested a conveyable for added rehearsal house throughout the day. However, because the CBAC was assembly within the fall of 2014 to debate floating one other bond in 2015, we started to debate the concept of increasing the band corridor capability at Johnson and different campuses within the district that have been seeing related progress.
The CBAC recognized Reagan, Johnson and Winston Churchill excessive colleges for band corridor growth initiatives on the 2015 bond. Legacy of Academic Excellence (LEE) and MacArthur Excessive would additionally obtain upgrades to their band and nice arts services, however not extra capability, with bond funds. Theodore Roosevelt Excessive College had already obtained a brand new nice arts facility in 2008, and Madison welcomed a brand new nice arts facility as part of the 2011 bond. In the long run, the district listened to its academics, band dad and mom and directors and considerably improved the nice arts services in any respect seven highschool campuses.
12 months 9, 2016-2017 — 303 college students: The Johnson program surpassed 300 college students within the band as projected.
12 months 10, 2017-2018 — 350 college students: Contractors broke floor on Johnson’s new band corridor on the finish of the college yr in 2018 and accomplished the challenge in the summertime of 2019, in time for the 2019-2020 college yr. The brand new facility added almost 3,500 sq. toes of house and a further capability of 175 college students. It included a small classroom for instruction, a brand new workplace, a brand new storage room and extra instrument locker storage. The unique architect for Johnson Excessive College additionally designed the addition to supply for continuity. The addition seems to be prefer it was there from Day One.
The bigger Johnson band has benefited tremendously from the extra capability granted via the 2015 bond. With the brand new facility, the capability at Johnson is over 400 college students now. All band college students even have sufficient locker house for tools.
With COVID-19 challenges, the extra house was invaluable as we break up bands into smaller teams. Band enrollment dipped to 310 as a result of pandemic, however numbers have bounced again, and we’re at present sitting at 335 for the 2021-2022 college yr.
Staffing and Workforce Instructing
As we approached an enrollment of 300 college students within the 2015-2016 college yr, we met with our principal and requested hiring a fourth band director. Our orchestra program was additionally rising, so directors determined to help each disciplines and rent a single director who would break up time between band and orchestra. The extra employees member was a blessing in managing the transition from 290 college students to 350 within the band and the orchestra’s progress to 150 college students.
The 4 administrators at Johnson work collectively intently, however every has an outlined position. I’m the Head Director, which is just like the CEO of an organization. I chart the general course for this system, handle communication, coordinate fundraising and interact with the center colleges day by day to recruit and retain college students. I additionally conduct the wind ensemble/honor band and direct and program the marching band. The Affiliate Director, which was the place Mr. Sharps held, is the eyes and ears of this system and has his/her hand in all the pieces the Head Director does, but in addition focuses on the jazz program and co-conducts the wind ensemble/honor band.
The 2 Assistant Administrators handle the stock and music library, and so they conduct the non-varsity and sub non-varsity live performance bands. The Assistant Director for Percussion teaches percussion for grades 6-12 and manages constructing occasions/services. The Assistant Director for Band and Orchestra co-conducts the total orchestra and teaches music idea.
We workforce educate all of the live performance bands, though somebody will finally conduct them at College Interscholastic League (UIL) Marching Band Contests. By taking this workforce strategy, our college students profit from the strengths and persona that every director brings to the desk.
If it’s not doable to have a workforce of administrators at your highschool, or in the event you’re restricted to 1 assistant, attempt to workforce educate as a lot as doable with different music academics in your district or division. Carry collectively choir, orchestra and band, or workforce educate with the center colleges. Band directing could be lonely, and having a number of companions is highly effective.
Rising the Instrument Stock
When the Johnson campus opened in 2008, the development challenge was over price range as a result of extra G-Wing added to the campus halfway via. This resulted in across-the-board cuts to tools purchases, together with musical devices, chairs, stands and extra.
The band opened with sufficient devices for a program of 150-175 college students and shared tools with Reagan. As Johnson’s program grew, directors promised to allocate monies every year to buy extra devices to convey the tools capability to match the 350-member Reagan stock earlier than the break up.
As different colleges in our district noticed their band applications declining, directors permitted Johnson to borrow out-of-circulation devices from these campuses. From 2008 to 2015, Johnson slowly added to its stock whereas persevering with to borrow from different campuses to fulfill our wants. By 2015, the band stock matched the one at Reagan, and we started to give attention to replacements and upgrades.
We continually communicated with administration and different band administrators to borrow out-of-use devices on different campuses and maximize using sources. Right now, this apply continues in our district as colleges repeatedly share tools to economize and apply towards alternative and upgrades. We’ve got been cautious to service, clear and keep our authentic stock since 2008 in order that devices didn’t fall into disrepair. Now, we work with our center colleges in our cluster to establish wants that can profit all three colleges earlier than we buy extra devices.
Pay It Ahead
Our earliest objective was for Johnson to function a shining “Metropolis on the Hill” filled with optimistic power for music schooling. We realized the distinctive privilege afforded to us by our group and that our challenges have been distinctive to our state of affairs. However our hope was to share what we realized via the method of constructing a profitable program from scratch and to drive conversations in regards to the “what ifs.”
Mr. Sharps and I are each non-native Texans — we didn’t develop up within the UIL or Texas band tradition, however we got here right here to be taught and be part of it. I imagine that Johnson has benefited from our need to convey collectively a number of colleges of thought from everywhere in the nation, and I encourage band administrators to be taught from nice applications in each metropolis and each state. In our view, success shouldn’t be dictated by trophies or accolades. Typically our best success as music educators is rooted within the small “gems” that we be taught from each other’s applications.
Johnson repeatedly engages 4 to 5 scholar academics every year in hopes of giving again to the music schooling group and be certain that we help the way forward for our occupation. We’re at all times open to guests. We share our concepts and provides generously as so many have helped us, and we hope that the concepts we’ve got supplied will assist another person develop and enhance their music program.