With the first half of the school year ending, Meredith Johnson is looking forward to continuing her journey as the leader of Midway Middle School’s band program.
Johnson began in August, just a few months after graduating from Meredith College in Raleigh. The music education major was a student-teacher in Wake County’s Athens Drive High School, prior to her current role.
“It’s a lot thrown at you at one time,” she said about being a new and young director. “It’s definitely challenging, but it’s something I love to do.”
The North Carolina native was educated in the Harnett County School District. Her mother, Sherry Baysa, was a chorus teacher for 20 years. Johnson was inspired by her mom and Dr. Larry Wells of Methodist University, during her early school years.
“I grew up watching her conduct at church,” Johnson said about the choir practice sessions. “I would stand behind her and try to imitate what she was doing.”
During her middle school years, she decided to join the band as a clarinet player.
“My band fire was lit in middle school and I continued through high school,” she said.
While attending Meredith College, she participated in North Carolina State’s University Marching Band during her sophomore year. At Meredith, she was a member of the orchestra and played in all the college’s musicals.
As a music lover, Johnson expressed how it brings emotions out of people. It’s something she enjoys the most.
“I believe everyone can have that connection,” she said while referring to different genres of music. “I think it’s really neat because you can see the kids connect with certain songs that other kids don’t connect with.”
As a result of a growing band program, Johnson’s arrival filled a major void in the Midway District of Sampson County School. Joshua Tew, director of the high school program, was the sole band director in the area. Now, the directors are allowed to spend more time at respective schools,which have award winning programs.
“She’s doing a fantastic job,” Tew said Johnson’s work with students.
During the year, Johnson worked with 160 students in sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade ensembles. Midway Middle’s winter concert is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.Tuesday, Dec. 19 at the school, 1115 Roberts Grove Road, Dunn. There is no charge for admission.
In 2018, the band students will participate in state and regional competitions. One will be held at Bush Gardens in Williamsburg, Va. Along with winning awards, another goal for Johnson is to start a pep band for sports teams at the school.
“They would add to the atmosphere of a middle school football game,” Johnson said. “I talked to the kids about it and they seem pretty excited.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow the paper on Twitter @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.