Robert McGuire has grown well aware of the legacy the late Dale Creitz left on Iola High School’s music program.
“When my band instructors would talk about successful music programs, his name was one they’d mention,” said McGuire, newly hired as the instrumental band instructor for IHS and Iola Middle School.
Fast forward to this summer, when McGuire was being interviewed for the vacancy left open when Larry Lillard retired.
“Quite a few people told me about Mr. Creitz,” McGuire recalled. “Then when I’m walking through the Bowlus I see the name on the recital hall.”
The Creitz Recital Hall.
“I finally put two and two together,” McGuire said with a laugh.
McGuire, 22, hopes to emulate Creitz’s success in developing young musicians.
His hiring came at the end of a whirlwind summer in which McGuire earned his degree in music education in May from the University of Kansas, then was hired by USD 257 Aug. 1.
A native of Gardner, McGuire is aware the impact a band instructor can have on a student.
“I really didn’t come from a musical family,” he said. “I was the only one who really even played an instrument.”
But it was his high school band instructor at Gardner-Edgerton High School that convinced McGuire to pursue a career in music education.
“It became a passion of mine,” he said. “I want to be able to influence students positively, to help them appreciate the arts.”
The community has already given McGuire a head start, he said.
“It’s apparent that the Iola community supports the arts,” he said.
McGuire noted that a preseason band camp he conducted just days after being hired brought more than half of the 56 students enrolled in band this year. The 56 students equates to 18 percent of the high school population, he said.
His former school at Gardner-Edgerton — with all of its success — had 11 percent participation, McGuire noted.
“I was ecstatic to see our numbers,” he said.
He will oversee the schools’ marching and concert bands as well as a jazz band.
“We’re going to have some challenging shows,” he promised.
McGuire plays the saxophone and for the past few years has given private lessons on the instrument.
ANOTHER GOAL is to raise funds for a high school band trip to New York City, May 29 through June 3.
“It’s scary to think about,” he said. “We’re going to have to raise a substantial amount of money by then.”
But those challenges are considerably easier to conquer when working with a group of students and their families who are so supportive of the arts, he said.
McGuire also lauded the Bowlus Fine Arts Center, which houses his band room.
“I’ve been to places where you have to rehearse in gymnasiums and cafeterias,” he said. “There’s such a tremendous difference.”
He plans to make full use of the Bowlus auditorium when possible, as well as the Creitz Hall for more intimate events.
McGuire also is eager to experience the community’s other musical traditions, such as the Iola Municipal Band and the Iola Area Symphony Orchestra.
“It’s exciting to put what I’ve learned the past four years into the classroom, to teach these sixth- through 12th-graders the same things,” he said. “I’m excited.”
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