Time to go?

How did I know that it was time to go? 1999 marked my 10th year as the band director at Lynchburg Christian Academy (LCA). I had gone from my first competition to Bands of America (BOA) Grand Nationals while I was there. Why leave?

Band parents

The parents at LCA were mostly very supportive. They didn’t always understand what I was doing, but they stayed behind me. But, there was a subtle shift following our Nationals trip.

Several parents were unhappy. Among other things, there were questions about the authority that I gave to drum majors. Our December band booster meeting felt like an ambush. When I said that to them, they hugged me and said that they loved me. It didn’t feel like love.

The band had prepared well and performed their best at Nationals. But, many of the band members immediately lost focus after the performance. Parents took students shopping instead of watching the bands that we had come to see. We had a fundamental difference of opinion. I saw the trip as a priceless learning opportunity, while others saw it as an opportunity for some fun. It didn’t seem like we had the level of buy in amongst parents and students that we would need to move to the next level.


The teacher turnover rate at LCA was high. I was in my 30’s and was the second oldest male faculty member at the school. Why was I staying?

The LCA facilities were subpar. I could touch the ceiling in the band room. On one occasion I lifted a chair over a student and inadvertently hit the lights. The bulb popped out and shattered on the floor. We also had no stage for performances. The facilities would likely keep the program from growing.

And then there was the budget, which was around $500/year. I had been begging the school’s headmaster for money to get a tuba. He announced at a parent teacher fellowship meeting that Mr. Dunn needed a tuba and then passed the offering plates. I was humiliated. And, to make matters worse, I was accosted by a band mom as I was leaving. She was livid! She didn’t see any reason why we would need that instrument and said it was a complete waste of money.

The band boosters had an excellent yearly citrus fundraiser, but how would we be able to acquire the funds for staff and equipment if we had to pass the offering plates every time we needed something?


I was approached by an influential figure in the band world while on the Nationals trip. He said, “We’re all surprised that you’ve stayed here as long as you have. You know, they finger Bb the same no matter where you go.”

Later that year, I was pulled aside by a local director and asked how long I intended to stay at LCA. He knew of an opening at a school that would be a good fit for me and thought I should apply.

These events seemed oddly random and they got me thinking.

Waking up

In the fall of 1999 we were updating the information for our benefits. I received a folder that was supposed to contain a copy of my signed paperwork. When I opened the folder, I was shocked! The salary amount was more than twice what I was making! I looked more carefully and saw that this wasn’t for me. This belonged to someone in our church ministry.

I had naively thought that everyone was sacrificing in order to keep the ministry financially strong. When I went to speak to a good friend about it, their response was, “On any given Sunday morning there is about a half a million dollars in salary on the platform.” I was stunned.

The workers in a ministry shouldn’t be at the poverty level. We had just had our second child and qualified to be in the WIC program while others in our ministry were doing quite well. Why did we have to sacrifice at a higher level? When you attempted to talk about money at LCA, the conversation would immediately shift to talking about how we were in a ministry and needed to sacrifice.

(Brenda and I never felt poor. We were always able to pay our bills and we never went hungry. God provided everything that we needed. I don’t want the reader to feel like we spent our days needing or longing for more money.)


I liked the ten years that I had spent in Christian education, so I looked on the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) website for an open job. I had one non-negotiable in my search. The school needed BOA experience. I didn’t want to rebuild a BOA culture from scratch.

The King’s Academy (TKA) showed up in the search and they seemed familiar to me. I did a BOA search and found them listed in a BOA Orlando Regional. So, I shot an email to their contact person and didn’t think any more about it.

I was fishing and TKA took the bait.

6 responses to “Time to go?”

    • Yes we did!

      I also remember having a really long chat with my percussion instructor that lasted late into the evening. I don’t remember the content of our conversation, but I remember being uplifted. You were and are a blessing!

      • One of my keystone memories!!! The contents are lost to time, just glad the friendship isn’t! I’m so very thankful for your investment in my life, during and after high school! Know that you and Brenda have my eternal support, whenever you call!

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