On the Fast Track by ProQuest


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									 On the
Fast Track
Chris Miller and the Lawton
Chiles High School Orchestra
                         BY   ELIAHU SUSSMAN

         awton Chiles High School is a relatively new school in Tallahas-
         see, Florida. Established in 1999, it wasn’t until 2006 that Law-
         ton Chiles had a fulltime orchestra director. The string program
         has since made remarkable strides, taking first place in the 2009
National Orchestra Festival’s High School String Orchestra division, and
having 10 of 30 members of the Chiles Chamber Orchestra named to the
Florida All-State Orchestra. While the rapid succession of these accom-
plishments may seem hard to believe, a closer look at the process by which
this program was established reveals that it was a combination of vision
and leadership that enabled such quick development.

                                      School Band and Orchestra, January 2010 23
                                                    The first string program in the dis-       fulltime position teaching sixth grade
                                                trict began at the elementary level in        strings at one school, and the first cur-
                                                approximately 1994, when a young              ricular middle school orchestra in the
                                                educator was hired to begin teaching          district was created. Later, when that
                                                string classes at the various middle          first flock of students matriculated to
Members of the Chiles Orchestra in Atlanta,     schools. She moved away after only            the high school, it was arranged that
Ga. for the 2009 National Orchestra Festival.
                                                                                              Chris would continue instructing them,
                                                                                              teaching one period a day at the high
                                                                                              school before going back to the middle
                                                                                              school. Eventually, that program grew,
                                                                                              too, leading up to 2006, when Chris
                                                                                              was hired as the fulltime orchestra di-
                                                                                              rector at Lawton Chiles High School
                                                                                              and another instructor took over the
                                                                                              middle school program.
                                                                                                  Miller wasn’t always sure that be-
                                                                                              ing a fulltime teacher was the right fit
                                                                                              for him. As he says, “I’d been attracted
                                                                                              to the idea of classroom teaching, but
                                                                                              I wasn’t sure I could handle the admin-
                                                                                              istrative and organizational aspects to

                                                                                              “In terms of artistic
                                                                                              development, the sky
                                                                                              is the limit.”

                                                                                              it. I have since found that I love it.”
                                                                                                  In a recent SBO interview, Chris
                                                                                              talks about the formation of his or-
                                                                                              chestra program, as well as his own
                                                                                              development as an educator, shedding
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