by Joey Crandall, firstname.lastname@example.org
A little more than two months after the position came open, Douglas High School has hired a new band and choir director.
Longtime Northern Nevada music educator Allison Smith, whose own children came through the Douglas County School District and music program, took over at the helm of the Douglas High program earlier this week.
The spot was vacated by 28-year veteran Bill Zabelsky in early August when he accepted the band director position at Carson High School.
Smith previously taught at Incline High School and was the band and choir teacher at Dayton Intermediate School from 2003 to 2013 before retiring. She also served as the dean of students at Yerington Elementary School during the 2011-12 school year.
The Carson Valley Times has contacted her and will speak with her later this week.
“She’s very familiar with the program and has a lot of experience at the elementary and middle school levels, high school as well,” Douglas High principal Marty Swisher said. “She has a wide range of a experience as well, from teaching stringed instruments and vocals to 10 years working in the Dayton Intermediate program and working closely with the high school program.”
Smith had expressed interest in the position early on about possibly working on a part-time basis to help out, Swisher said, but it didn’t come together at the time.
“She didn’t officially apply until two weeks ago,” he said. “She called and said she could make it work if we were still interested. We interviewed her and had her work with the kids.
“We were impressed with how she did with them, impressed with her knowledge of music and her choir and orchestra background. She just fit in really well.”
For the interim, Smith will be teaching the concert band/orchestra, jazz band and choir classes during the day while Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School band director Tammy Owens, who has been advising the marching band over the past two months, will finish out the marching season.
“It’s been a substitute teacher during class time so far, with Tammy coming over for practice once a week, and then 6 or 7-hour practice sessions on Saturdays,” Swisher said. “The students have worked very hard. The drum major, Bette Phillips, and assistant drum major, Brandon Pierce, have really been incredible leaders for this group.
“Tammy Owens has just done an incredible job as well. There has been a real emphasis on making sure this a program the kids really want to be a part of. They are having fun, working hard and experiencing some success.”
This past weekend, Douglas took first in its division (3A) at the McQueen Extravaganza in Reno – also sweeping the first place awards for Brass, Woodwinds and Pageantry. The competition featured many Northern Nevada schools and several travelling up from California.
“The kids are doing great,” Swisher said. “They’ve made the transitions so well and there are some super quality musicians at the school. They’re really shining – just kids that want to enjoy music and take it to the maximum they can. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Douglas has competitions at Galena (this weekend), Spanish Springs and the University of Nevada left on its schedule, as well as the Nevada Day Parade in Carson City. The University of Nevada competition will conclude the marching season, at which point Smith will assume the helm of the entire music program at the school.
“Allison is going to be getting the bands and choirs ready for the Christmas concert and the district concert competition,” Swisher said.