John Carroll and Van Ragsdale, two band directors from Permian High School, will receive the Texas Bandmasters Association 2018 Meritorious Achievement Award at the organization’s convention in July in San Antonio.
The ceremony is scheduled 7:15 p.m. July 26 in the Lila Cockrell Theatre in the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center and will be followed by a performance by the U.S. Air Force Band of the West. The event is free to the public.
Carroll is in his 23rd year as associate director of bands at Permian and his 41st year in education and Ragsdale was band director from 1989 to 1996 and racked up 33 years as an educator.
“… I’m very honored and humbled to be recognized as deserving of it. There are many, many of my mentors and professional heroes who have received it in the past, so I’m very honored,” Carroll said.
Carroll said he was thrilled to find out Ragsdale was also being recognized because he said Ragsdale took a chance on him in 1995.
Carroll said it never entered his mind that he would one day garner the award.
“I would always enjoy each summer looking forward to seeing who would receive it, but … you don’t really set out to achieve that. It’s nothing I’ve even dreamed about …,” he said.
Originally from El Paso, Carroll has been in education for 41 years. He was a percussionist growing up and still plays occasionally with the Midland-Odessa Symphony and Chorale and the Odessa College band.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Abilene Christian University and a master’s in music education from West Texas A&M University in Canyon.
The students are what he enjoys most about his job. He likes teaching youngsters the joys of music and methods of how to be successful in life, such as teamwork and stick-to-itiveness.
“I also enjoy music. Music is a blessing from God,” Carroll said.
It’s a wonder to him how “simple vibrations of air at different frequencies mixed with other vibrations of air at other different frequencies” can be fun, sad or moving, he added.
Carroll is in charge of Concert Band I, which exists during the spring; the jazz band, which exists all year; the drumline during marching season; and oversees percussion throughout the school year, a news release said.
Director of Bands Jeff Whitaker oversees everything, but those are the aspects Carroll said he is directly connected with.
Carroll said he can teach students all instruments, but his expertise is percussion, which he played in high school and college.
“I enjoyed the music itself and I enjoyed the feeling of band family. I preach that a lot. Some directors do; some directors don’t. I feel like band is a family. I feel like we have each other’s back. I feel like we care about each other,” Carroll said.
Before school starts every morning, there are students in the band hall and after school the students are drawn there.
“It’s the place they want to be. I enjoy the feeling of family,” Carroll said.
Counting the Panther Paws dance team, the band had 360 to 380 students and he expects about the same number this coming fall. Carroll said when the group goes somewhere, even if it’s just to Ratliff Stadium, it’s like moving a small town.
Ragsdale, who retired to San Antonio, said he taught in Odessa in the early 1970s and went back in the 80s. He has also taught at Wilson & Young Medal of Honor Middle School, formerly known as Hood Junior High, and Lee High School in Midland among other places in his 33-year career.
He retired as director of fine arts in Arlington.
Growing up in Pampa, his primary instrument was the trombone. First thinking he would go into medicine, Ragsdale said he was leaning toward becoming a band director his senior year of high school. Six of 19 seniors in his high school graduating class went on to be music majors in college.
He earned a bachelor’s of music education and master of arts in music from Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, N.M.
Ragsdale said it’s a great honor to earn the Meritorious Achievement Award.
“I think it’s pretty unique that two people from the same school were chosen,” he said.