New head band director leads with passion

Rachel Thomas, Staff Writer

Travis Whaley is the new Head Band Director at Summit High School. He plays the trombone and has taught band for 12 years.


The Jagwire: What is your role at Summit High School?

Travis Whaley: Head Band Director

TJ: Why did you become a teacher?

TW: I always knew I wanted to help people. Band was my stable place and my rock. My band directors made me feel like I was part of something bigger; that really helped bring stability to my life

TJ: What college did you attend? What made you want to go there?

TW: Northern Arizona University! Go Lumberjacks! As a native of Las Vegas, Nevada, NAU was only three hours away. It was far enough away to get away from it all, but close enough to home in case of an emergency. Also, snow 6 months out of the year and basically living in a forest where you can see every single star in the sky was also cool.

TJ: How many years have you been teaching? Where else have you taught?

TW: I’m entering year 12 of teaching. I graduated college in December, so I worked a year and a half at Cannon Junior High School in Las Vegas; 7 years at Liberty High School in Henderson, Nevada; and 3 years at Martin High School in Arlington Texas.

TJ: What do you enjoy about Summit?

TW: I like the amazing support we have to the arts and for band. The band program is filled with incredible humans, and I’m happy to be a part of it.

TJ: How did you get into education?

TW: I graduated high school knowing I wanted to be a band director, so I went to college to do it.

TJ: Why did you decide to teach at Summit?

TW: I was really happy as an assistant band director at Martin High School – things were just starting to take off after implementing a bunch of systems into place that were just starting to work; but I heard about this position opening up, and I missed being a head director, so I felt like this school would be a good fit. It’s not terribly far from home too – that helps.

TJ: What’s your favorite thing about teaching?

TW: The student’s growth! I get to see these students grow from awkward freshmen who think they know everything to humble young adults who know they know nothing. It’s amazing to see that transformation and maturing of a person.

TJ: Do you have any children? How many? How old are they? OR Tell me about your family.

TW: No kids, but I have a three year old pug named Puglee and a 13 year old cat named Cat-cat – they hate each other, and I love them.

TJ: What is your least favorite thing about teaching?

TW: We call it Educationese – all of these lofty education words that make us feel important. I can’t get into that. Just teach the kids and be a good human to them.

TJ: Have you been in MISD in the past? Where were you in the past? OR where have worked in the past?

TW: Nope! Vegas, to Arlington ISD to MISD

TJ: What do you teach?

TW: BAAAAAAAAAAND. But also life skills, hard work, dedication, commitment to a group, punctuality, grit, and being proud of having a high standard.

TJ: When you were in high school, what was your plan for your future?

TW: Teach! …there was a point where I wanted to be a chef, and then an architect (I played with a LOT of Legos as a kid), but I landed as a band director, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

TJ: What’s your favorite grade to teach? Why?

TW: I love the brightness of the eyes of a middle school kid who picks up their instrument for the first time, but I love making musical ideas and phrases with the high school student. Both are great for different reasons, and I enjoyed both.

TJ: What other jobs did you have before becoming a teacher?

TW: I worked at a sub shop called Port of Subs for four years – most of high school and my first year of college. I made a LOT of sandwiches.

TJ: What kind of teacher would you describe yourself as?

TW: You’ll have to ask the students… unhinged? passionate? crazy? They’ll have to tell you

TJ: What are your hobbies?

TW: I still play trombone when I can and play in the Arlington community band. I also like DIY projects – even though I’m not good at them.

JT: Where did you grow up? What school did you attend? In what activities were you involved?

TW: Las Vegas, Nevada, and I attended Silverado High School. I was a band kid through and through. I did chamber ensembles, jazz band, symphony orchestra, community youth orchestra, All-State and more! I did ALL THE THINGS.