A 2001 St. Clair High School graduate who was a former student of current directors Paul and Elaine Swofford has been chosen by the R-XIII School District to be its new instrumental music teacher and director.
Superintendent Mike Murphy announced that R. Andrew Jackson II will begin his duties on July 1.
“He had the wide range of experience we were looking for, and he is an alumnus of the district,” Murphy told The Missourian earlier this week. “He was a very strong candidate. He has a high amount of music knowledge and is a good choice to continue the success of the program.”
A selection committee consisting of Murphy, Assistant Superintendent Mark Denbow, SCHS Principal Kevin Hillman and Paul Swofford interviewed the four finalists and made the recommendation to hire Jackson. The R-XIII Board of Education approved the hiring during its meeting last Thursday.
“The Swoffords know him,” Murphy said. “He was a participant in the band program here. They have a high degree of comfort as far as his capabilities.”
Murphy said more than 70 individuals applied for both the director and assistant director positions after the Swoffords announced last month that they were resigning after 30 years at the helm of the R-XIII instrumental music program. Elaine Swofford also was involved in the interview process.
During the same school board meeting, members approved hiring Kelly R. Walker as the assistant instrumental music director. She, too, will start on July 1.
“This will be Ms. Walker’s first full-time position,” Murphy said. “But she brings some pretty good qualifications with her.”
Murphy said it was important for the district to have the new director involved in the process of hiring the assistant.
“Once we secured our director, we had him sit in on the process to select the assistant director,” Murphy said. “Our intent was to have the new director involved in the process and to be able to pair up the strengths of the two we hired.
“We were looking for two individuals who complement each other as well as our music program, and I’m confident we found that. We picked the two candidates who will allow for a smooth transition and will allow for the structured and successful curriculum to continue for student growth.”
Currently, Jackson is the instrumental music director at Glendale High School in Springfield, where he is responsible for the development, recruitment and maintenance of a program that includes a marching band, symphonic band, freshmen concert band and a jazz ensemble.
On his resume, Jackson said over a period of three years during his tenure that began in July 2009, the Glendale band program grew by about 50 percent and “reignited a passion for band in the Glendale side of Springfield public schools.”
He also said that he has taken the GHS bands from consistent last-place ratings to a top-four finish in each competition attended, including marching, concert and jazz events.
“Mr. Jackson is a great person,” Hillman said. “He has big shoes to fill, but he absolutely was the right person. He understands what he is coming into.”
Before Glendale, Jackson was the instrumental music director at Sullivan High School from July 2008 to May 2009. In addition, he served as music director at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Clair from October 1998 to July 2009.
He also gained experience as the assistant instrumental music director at Wentzville public schools and as the music director in the Anna School District in Illinois.
After St. Clair High School, Jackson graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in music from Truman State University in May 2005. In August 2006, he earned his master of arts in education degree from TSU.
Attempts to reach Jackson by telephone and email were unsuccessful.
Walker also graduated from Truman State University, obtaining her bachelor of arts degree in music in May 2010 and her master of arts degree in education this past August. She graduated from Platte County High School in May 2006.
Currently, Walker is a substitute teacher in Kansas City within the North Kansas City, Park Hill and Platte County school districts.
“St. Clair has a strong instrumental music tradition, and I am excited to be a part of the program,” she told The Missourian. “The community has been very welcoming, and I feel fortunate to be joining this positive environment.”
Walker has earned several honors during the past few years, including the Sigma Alpha Iota Scholastic, the Sigma Alpha Iota Collegiate Honor and the Sigma Alpha Iota Sword of Honor awards in 2011. In addition, she was named the recipient of the Dillinger Woman Band Director Scholarship in 2009, the Wells Bank Scholarship in 2008 and 2009, the Truman State University Combined Ability Scholarship from 2006-2009 and the John Philip Sousa Band Award in 2006.
“Kelly has a great personality and solid musical ability,” Hillman said. “She is a real sharp person who will do well here.”