Why the Year’s Muscogee Teacher of the Year has Special Meaning for me

Hardaway High Band Director Vincent Sneed, MCSD Teacher of the Year, being congratulated after his talk to the Rotary Club of Columbus

Since the teacher who probably influenced my life the most was a high school band director, I was heartened by the featured speaker at Wednesday’s Rotary Club of Columbus meeting.  For the only time that I know of, a high school band director was named as the Muscogee County School District Teacher of the Year.

Vincent Sneed is the director of the Hardaway High School Band.  He told Rotarians that while he wants his students to apply themselves to play their instruments well, he emphasizes the importance of their caring about and serving their fellow human beings.

Sneed, who speaks a number of foreign languages, told about his many travels in the world. He said when he finally got to Africa, he visited Ethiopia. He said when he settled in his hotel room, he noticed someone slid a message under his room door. It warned him not to go out on the street because it was too dangerous. He would be  stabbed and robbed. When he ask the desk clerk about the warning, he told him not to worry about it, just don’t speak to anyone.  After he went outside, in no time at all, a man approached him and asked him for some money for food. He gave the man some money.  Others did the same thing and he gave them money, too.  One old woman who approached him said nothing, just pointed to he baby girl’s mouth and held out her hand. He gave her some money, too.

When he flew back to the United States and his plane landed in New York, he got into a taxi and the driver told him his meter was broken and the trip would cost him $75.  Sneed knew he was being scammed.  He said he reflected on how a lot of Americans really don’t know how fortunate they are, and don’t really understand people of different cultures overseas.

When he had told his students he was going to Africa, some said he shouldn’t because it was too dangerous, that people would shoot darts  at him. He said when he got back he tried to help his students better understand what Africa is like today.

When he finished his talk, the Rotarians gave him a standing ovation.

As I said, this was special because a band director greatly influenced my life.  I was in the legendary Bob Barr Jordan High Red Jacket Band.  He was a very inspiring man, who really cared about his students. He helped me get started in broadcasting. And it was also special because my son Rick played trumpet in the Hardaway Marching Band and French horn in the concert band. He also had an outstanding director and teacher. David Gregory led that band to impressive heights, including coming in first in a marching band contest in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1976.  Hardaway represented Georgia in the bicentennial band festival that featured bands from the 13 original colonies.

Tnanks to Vincent Sneed for continuing a great tradition.

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