Kirkman, who is the band director at Sheffield High School, stood behind the stage, enjoying the music after his opening performance.Sunday was the fourth time he has opened the annual festival."It's always an honor to represent good music and such a great man in W.C. Handy," Kirkman said.
This year's program had an added flavor, thanks to guest soloist Eric Kirkman, band and choral director at Sheffield High School and choir director at Galilee Baptist Church in the Shoals.
"We used Eric for one song in an Easter program last year, because we needed somebody who could really hit those high tenor notes," Fowler said.
With Kirkman, fellow soloist Carole Fowler, accompanists Paula Lindsey and Linda McAlister, and the First Baptist choir providing the musical touch, the rest was left to the actors in the drama, which was directed by Lela Ray and Jim Alverson.
I told you so! The SHS Band is Tops. | Mr. Eric Kirkman, Band
Mr. Eric KirkmanBAND DIRECTOR Mr. Kirkman in his office where the walls are decorated with his two loves--his family and his SHS Bands!The brand new banner that precedes the marching bandOriginally from Panama City, Florida, Eric came to Alabama on a full music Scholarship at the University of North Alabama.He received his Bachelor's degree in music education in the fall of 1997, and a Master's Degree in education from UNA in the Summer of 2000. While at UNA, Eric was the lead trumpeter and featured soloist in the marching, jazz and concert bands at UNA; He was also the Director of the Ascending Voices Gospel Choir for three years.While at UNA, Mr. Kirkman was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa Kappa Psi, Order of Omega Greek Honor Society, Alpha Theta Chi, and the University Program Council.Upon graduation, Eric served as a Graduate assistant in the office of student life where he worked with the Interfraternity council, the NPHC, and student organizations.One of his most cherished memories of UNA was when he was selected "University Man of the Year" in 1997. Eric has over 15 years experience in vocal training and dance choreography.Eric also has been the judge for numerous cheerleading, dance line and band auxiliary tryouts.His judging experience also includes various junior high, senior high, and college beauty pageants (some of which were Miss America preliminaries) Currently, Mr. Kirkman is the Band Director at Sheffield High School as well as the Minister of Music at Galilee Missionary Baptist Church of Florence.In addition, he is 9 hours away from completing his Doctorate Degree in Education Leadership from Nova Southeastern University.Also, Eric has been a Financial counselor with Citigroup's Primerica Financial Services for the past three years.
Take a moment to scroll up and read about Mr. Eric Kirkman, an extraordinary teacher and mentor of the current SHS band members.
Now that school has restarted, I checked with Mr. Kirkman to see what the status of the band needs are now.Here's his reply:
How about you former band members contributing to this fund to help Eric equip these students get equipment that is worthy of their talent?
Sheffield High School music teacher and band director Eric Kirkman is one of eight finalists for secondary teacher of the year, while Muscle Shoals' McBride Elementary intervention specialist Joy Harbin is among the candidates for elementary teacher of the year.
Kirkman, 37, has been teaching in Sheffield for 13 years, serving as the band director for the past 11 years.He is the second finalist from Sheffield High School in as many years.
With a doctorate in instructional leadership and currently pursuing an administration certification, Kirkman said it isn't his personal academic achievements that make him successful, but the success of his students.
"No one knows the hours after 3 p.m. that goes into working with students," he said.
"It's an unbelievable amount of time, but then the payoff comes when you see the students' faces when they've just won at a major competition.
Success is also measured when students who have already graduated come back and tell me that they stayed in school because of the band program.
That's when you know you've had the kind of impact you've hoped for."
Kirkman teaches choral music and music appreciation in addition to his band duties.
He said it was an honor to be selected by his peers at the local level, but winning the state title would give him a platform to promote the importance of educational teaching methods as well as music education across the state.
Kirkman has conducted a great deal of research on current instructional methods, and said he is always seeking opportunities to learn more.
"That's what a good teacher does-strives to learn the most effective approach to teaching students with various learning styles," he said.
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