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New Band Directors Making Waves in SHS Band Program

Katelin Meek, Media Student

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With director positions in the band having been available, Leah Downard and Dalton Haberman took up the challenge.

“There are many things that are easier because it was about delegating responsibilities a little bit more. Running a 6-12 4A program with just two people is insane, so as we kept growing we needed the help,” said Tom Brockman, Director of Bands.

But Downard and Haberman didn’t just come out of nowhere. Haberman grew up in nearby Kearney, Missouri, and Downard came from Union, Missouri, which is near St. Louis. When they graduated, both went into college. Haberman went to Northwest Missouri State University, and Downard went to Missouri State.   

“Well, I graduated in 2014 from Missouri State with my degree in Music Ed., then I did my student teaching, and then went straight back for grad school,” said Leah Downard, Associate Director of Bands. “And so I had a GA position, so I got to actually teach and conduct some of the college ensembles for two years. And then graduated again from Missouri State in 2016, taught one year in Miami, Oklahoma, and now I’m here.”

But before he chose to major in music education, Haberman had a different idea about where his life was headed.

“At first I went to school as a computer science major,” Haberman said. “I did that for three years, and then my last semester doing that was just awful. I just didn’t know why. Well, then I figured out that’s just not what I’m supposed to do. It just kind of hit me one day: you’re going to teach music. So I switched and it was way better.”

Majors aside, Downard had interesting reasons for going into music education.

“I knew I wanted to do something with music, and I loved high school band, everything about it. Marching, pep band, things like that, and was involved in all of those aspects and I really didn’t want that to end. I really wanted to be a part of that,” Downard said.

Looking forward to this year, Downard and Haberman were welcomed into the band with open arms.

“They’re really nice,” said Ashley Ball, senior band member. “They definitely help, they give me a lot of resources, and a lot of things I can look at, like Haberman gave me some really good players and stuff, so I can listen to that. And Ms. Downard helped me with college.”

Brockman also said that it’s, “fun getting to know each other,” and that he enjoys working with them. Downard and Haberman have also been getting to know the town.

“It‘s a very similar town as far as size and access to other bigger cities and other bigger things,” Haberman said. “And the lake’s here. That’s really cool to go there and play disc golf or camp, so it’s a really nice town to have access to all of those things. And the people here are good too…The people that work here are really awesome, and there’s a lot of good students that I get to work with.”

Talk of the town and the lake aside, Downard and Haberman have a little bit of advice for new teachers of their own.

“Don’t be afraid to contact mentors often, about good and bad things. Like anytime, if you need advice or just have something you want to celebrate,” Downard said.

Haberman’s advice follows a contrasting line of thought.

“Get done what you get done during the day and go home and try not to let it keep you up at night,” Haberman said. “As much as this job takes from you, working with students in all different kinds of situations, upbringing their life, in whatever shape or form you can, you have to go home, and you just have to kind of deal with your own life. Mow the lawn, clean the dishes, things like that.”

And as Downard and Haberman start this new chapter of their band careers, they continue to empower and uplift through music.

“Music has given me a ton of opportunities, like literally traveling halfway across the world, and I just think it would be cool to help other people have those opportunities as well,” said Downard.

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