For the band director at Central Middle School, working at Central was a choice. She brings with her 25 years of teaching experience, all of it in band, and she says she loves her first year at Central.
“It is a blast working with an incredible administration and staff,” said Rebecca Coleman. “I love it here.”
Coleman taught two years at Mayfield Jr. High School in Putnam City, one year as head director at Del City High School and has spent the past 22 years in Edmond Public Schools, all of them at Summit Middle School and Santa Fe High School.
When the schools realigned this year there was a band director opening at Central Middle School and for Coleman it was a no brainer.
“Royce, our seventh grade son attends Central and it allowed me to teach him band,” Coleman said.
Coleman said upon coming to Central she was impressed by the way Central administration, support staff and faculty worked together.
“The support staff is absolutely incredible as well as everyone else. There is a unique feeling of team teaching where all teachers work together for the betterment of the students,” Coleman said. “I think what sets Central apart is the desire for teachers and students to work together to develop superiority in all programs.”
Because of how students traveled for seventh and eighth grade enrollment, Central's extra curricular and elective groups were hit with smaller numbers. Instead of concede, the staff has gone above and beyond to make sure kids are mutually respected and shared in all groups.
“I have to qualify that a truly healthy school is only created when the leaders, our administrators, are team players. Our administration seeks success for our students and appreciates us as educators,” Coleman said. “We work harder because we understand that we are valued and respected. This is an important quality and although others may attempt to portray that leadership at Central Middle School we know we are valued.”
Coleman has 90 sixth graders enrolled in band, a high number for the middle school program.
“I feel that the large sixth grade numbers will continue to climb because the word is out that Central is a healthy, student-centered school where we as teachers are valued and respected. People say that these qualities exist everywhere, not so, not at the level that it occurs here,” Coleman said.
The band directors across Edmond recruit students for band every year.
“All fifth graders are given an opportunity to try instruments when we visit the schools in the spring,” Coleman said.
The students are under pressure to perform with their class sizes down.
“They seem to go right after the challenge,” Coleman said. “There are band students practicing at 7 a.m. on their own every day and numerous students rehearsing after school as well. Coming to Central I also brought my private staff of exceptional music teachers who are specialists on each instrument.
“It is like a small college with private teachers tutoring and the band rehearsals going on at the same time. All of our private instructors are exceptional and very experienced. Again, it takes a village to build band programs.”
The lessons are $17 each and all of the private instructors are approved by the Edmond School District.
“Central has had decent numbers make CODA before. (Central Oklahoma Directors Association is a Honor Band students audition for.) However, they had much larger groups of students in seventh and eighth grade bands previously because their classes were larger,” Coleman said. “We are a smaller school in total enrollment so when you say 50 percent of the seventh grade band of only 30 students made the CODA band you know where we are at.”
Coleman says her students are like the little engine that could.
“We meet obstacles everywhere and we not only meet the challenge but beat it,” Coleman said. “There are musicians at Central not horn holders. Everyone in the three organizations can play and do. That is phenomenal when you realize the obstacles a smaller school enrollment presents. However, the advantages are terrific. My staff knows every child and truly knows every child and their ability.”
Central in the past has had two full-time directors and one part-time.
“We are the only middle school in Edmond with only one full-time director, myself, and two fabulous part-time instructors William Bishop and Mikela Connella. Our progress, numbers and general enthusiasm will make it easy for Edmond to have two full-time directors here next year. My colleagues are very fine and make it a friendly, professional and fun place to work. That kind of team teaching is also difficult to achieve. All three of us have had a terrific time working together.”
Coleman said the school is led by a very competent principal, Laura McGee, who is leading Central for the first time.
“Our future looks very bright and hopeful,” Coleman said.