Excel Award: South Oldham MS band director teaches more than music



Posted on May 17, 2013 at 5:52 PM

Updated Friday, May 17 at 6:39 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) --  The newest winner of the WHAS11 Excel award is the sound of music at South Oldham Middle School.
Bob Parker is the band director at South Oldham and has tripled the number of band students during his tenure at the school.
Parker graduated from Johns Hopkins and played trumpet in big city symphonies but said he found his true calling teaching band students in middle school.

Parker's band room is a place students want to be. More than a hundred new 6th graders have already applied for next year - a demonstration of how one teacher can affect one school.

“When I started here 17 years ago, the 6th graders were after school. It was an after school program and there were only about 35 kids in the whole school playing instruments and today there's 285. And the first thing I had to do was get the beginners during the school day and just make sure they had fun with it,” he said.

Parker has been so successful having fun with music, his principal said there are plans to expand the building just to accommodate Parker's program. That’s the same impact that made him the Excel winner in Oldham County.

Parker said he gets lots of community financial support for his bands and more came in the form of a $1000 teacher grant from LG&E and KU. He said with the money he can buy instruments for kids who can't afford their own.

For a band leader that loves the underdog, it’s really something special.

“The challenge, for me, is to find those kids that might not be successful at everything and to give them something to look forward to and come to school each day,”  Parker said.

His principal said Parker teaches more than music, he teaches kids how to grow up during the tough adolescent years.

“If a kid wants to learn how to play, they're gonna be in the band and I'm gonna try to teach them how to play,” Parker said.