In 2000, he was given a fulltime position teaching sixth grade strings at one school, and the first curricular middle school orchestra in the district was created. Eventually, that program grew, too, leading up to 2006, when Chris was hired as the fulltime orchestra director at Lawton Chiles High School and another instructor took over the middle school program. In a recent SBO interview, Chris talks about the formation of his orchestra program, as well as his own development as an educator, shedding some light on the methodology - and circumstances - that enabled his orchestra program to reach significant achievements so quickly.
On the Fast Track Chris Miller and the Lawton Chiles High School Orchestra BY ELIAHU SUSSMAN L 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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