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From The Red Coat Marching Band to JCSS Band Directors

From The Red Coat Marching Band to JCSS Band Directors
Between the East side and the West side there are only two female band directors, Rebecca Heard and Mindy Griffith. Both directors were part of the University of Georgia’s Red Coat Marching Band during their time in college.

Heard was a senior band captain during Griffith’s second year at the UGA.

“With Mindy and myself being music majors, I’d see her quite a bit in the music building. We were able to get to know each other through those late night practices and classes,” said Heard. “Then she began her student teaching in Jackson County, where she is now,”

They worked closely for district honor band and Large Group Performance Evaluation (LGPE). Working together for the interest of the students, both Heard and Griffith were bonded over their passion for music and teaching.

The pair actually grew up twenty minutes apart without realizing it. When they both found themselves in the Red Coat Marching Band, they also bonded together over their hometowns. They were very similar in several ways and they were both surprised to find out how close they lived their entire lives before college.

“I went to Newnan in Coweta County, and she grew up in Heard County. It is such a small world, we grew up so close to one another and had no idea,” said Griffith “To think we both ended up working in the same school system as each other is great.”

“Jackson County is a really special place. We all care about each other's kids, rather they are wearing an eagle or a paw print on their shirt, it does not matter because we all want the best for all of our students,” said Heard. “We want to give our kids a high quality musical experience, regardless of what side of the county they’re on.”

The band directors throughout JCSS have become family to one another. Griffith will be marrying her fiance, Carson, and she plans to have Heard as a bridesmaid in her wedding.

After student teaching, Griffith became the assistant director at WJMS and then director when William Kilgore transitioned to Jackson County High School. She values her peers for their encouragement during her transition into band director.

The close knit group of band directors aspire to give all students in JCSS an excellent musical experience.

“I love our Professional learning days because all of us band directors in Jackson County are able to get together and talk about what's going on and are able to plan together,” said Griffith.

“I look forward to pre planning days because we all get together and have band director professional development and we love getting together. It isn’t something that we dread, we’ve all got a great relationship and that is what is so special about Jackson County,” said Heard.

A lot of students have actually mentioned to both Heard and Griffith about how similar the pair is. Some may say that it was a friendship bound to happen.

Last year Heard won Teacher of the Year for the Jackson County School System, winning the honor as the representative from East Jackson Middle School. This year, it was Griffith’s turn, as she was named the West Jackson Middle School Teacher of the Year. Both teachers truly want the best for their students.

“Mindy works extremely hard so it was special to see her nominated this year. She deserves to be appreciated and nominated, I am truly proud of her,” said Heard.

“To have someone that is close by and also navigating through the same circumstances as me has been helpful. Rebecca is a huge encouragement for me, I don’t know how I would have done these first three years without her,” said Griffith.

When two band directors become close friends, the community can benefit from the dynamic duo.