Marietta band students were able to meet their new assistant director on Monday, August 1. Longtime band director Eric Gallaway hosted a meet-and-greet for the new assistant, Jake Rhodes.

Rhodes is a 2017 graduate of Gainesville High School who was active in band, which he calls “a family tradition.” After high school, Rhodes went to school at Texas A&M, Commerce for two years before transferring to Oklahoma Baptist University where he received his bachelor’s degree in May. Throughout college, Rhodes continued to participate in marching, jazz, and concert bands.

Choosing a career in education was easy, as he comes from a family of educators.

“While I was in high school and started thinking about what I would do, I first thought about business because I could make a lot of money,” he said, “but then I took a business technology class and realized that business didn’t excite me. I’ve always enjoyed mentoring others and helping my peers, so I decided that I should go into education.

“My senior year, I was drum major and got to be a mini-director of sorts. It’s something I loved, so that pretty much cemented it for me.”

It’s rather serendipitous that Rhodes would end up at Marietta. His aunt and uncle, Louis and Elaine White, were both teachers in the system. Louis is a former MHS band director and Elaine was a high school English teacher for many years.

“Louis and Elaine had bragged on Marietta, it’s close to home, and I love the small-town atmosphere,” remarked Rhodes, “so when I found out about the opportunity, I was excited. Everything just lined up and I’m really looking forward to getting started. I just hope to be a positive influence on the program.”

Gallaway is also thrilled to have Rhodes on board.

“For years, I’ve been just one person and I’ve had to make a lot of decisions about what I’d work on, so things haven’t been as polished as I’d like,” he explained. “Mrs. Naylor and I have talked about hiring an assistant, but for one reason or another, weren’t able to. This time it just worked out that the openings we had lined up with us being able to hire someone.”

Rhodes, whose willingness to fill in some gaps contributed to his hiring, will be monitoring online Spanish classes in addition to his work with band students.

Gallaway is particularly looking forward to having help with beginning band classes, which tend to be quite large. Rhodes will also be helping to prepare advanced students for competitions.

“I think he’s going to be a great fit,” stated Gallaway. “We’ve had good programs and good kids, so we’re hoping to build on that and make it even better.”

Superintendent Brandi Naylor is also looking forward to having Rhodes on staff.

“The band program is such an integral part of our school community and has a huge impact on school spirit and student morale,” she said. “We were pleased to be able to find a quality applicant in Jake Rhodes and I’m very excited to see our band program expand and excel in the coming school year.”

Rhodes will begin working with students when band camps begin on August 8.