Music Man Ready For Finale at High School
After a career filled with high notes, a music man is preparing to exit the stage at Tyler Consolidated High School.
Longtime music teacher and band director Wayne Smith informed the Tyler County School Board that he intends to retire at the end of the school year in 2016. Smith and his wife, Cindy, are making travel plans to visit places near and far.
“What I plan to do is some traveling, maybe go to Mexico first, the Grand Canyon, New England – places we’ve never been,” he said.
Smith teaches elementary, middle school and high school band classes, as well as general music, percussion ensemble, guitar and music history.
“The best part – I like watching the kids learn,” said Smith, who began teaching about 30 years ago in Tyler County Schools. “I like seeing them work a show into something special.”
Smith, 58, has served as the marching band director for decades. During that time, Smith has seen raw recruits transformed each season into one of the best marching bands in the state.
“There is a gradual process of learning their music, learning to play,” he said.
In 2008, the Silver Knights band was named as the state’s honor band, so they were able to perform at the music educators convention that year in Wheeling. Last Saturday, the Silver Knights were first runner-up for class 1 at the state championship in Charleston.
“I think the kids had a lot of fun,” said Smith, who was named as state Band Master for 2008.
Smith traced his musical roots to his teacher at Edison Middle School in Parkersburg.
“I draw a lot of my inspiration from my junior high teacher – Felice Jorgeson,” he said. “She inspired me and instilled music in me by the way she taught and motivated me. And her bands were exceptionally good.”
Jorgeson’s husband, Kent, taught Smith how to play his favorite instrument – the trombone. Prior to earning a music education degree from WVU, Smith played the trombone for four years as a member of the U.S. Navy Band between 1977 and 1981.
“He really helped me develop into an excellent musician,” said Smith, who still plays the trombone as a guest soloist for area colleges and high schools.
Inspiration and a pursuit of excellence echoes an eternity for Smith’s students today.
“He’s one of the reasons I like band,” said Julian Work, a senior, Silver Knights’ Marching Band field commander.
Work, who also plays trombone, gives Mr. Smith a lot of credit as a teacher.
“Band is not easy,” said Work, who has been one of Smith’s students for seven years. “It takes a lot of hard work and dedication and that pays off in the end. Mr. Smith … he makes it fun while you are striving toward excellence.”
Brittany Weekley, a senior who plays alto sax for the marching band, said Smith makes learning enjoyable.
“Mr. Smith is a really fun gun guy,” she said. “He knows when it is time to be serious, but he is not afraid to let us have fun.”
Weekley said because of this balance in the classroom, she enjoys Smith’s classes a lot.
“He motivates you to learn,” she said. “It is not like some classes where you feel you have to do something ? he makes you want to.”
Tyler Consolidated High School Principal Kent Yoho has worked alongside Smith for more than 20 years.
“He is a great guy and a professional,” Yoho said. “He’s had nothing but respect from students and peers since I’ve known him.”