Morenci has two new teachers on staff 2012.08.29

Written by David Green.

Morenci has two new teachers on staff this year.

aj.garrAJ Garr

The name “Morenci” is well known by an individual at the large Portage Central High School near Kalamazoo. That’s because the band director there, Patrick Flynn, once taught in Morenci.

When he learned that Morenci needed a band director, he told a young acquaintance that he should investigate the job. That’s how Morenci’s new director, Alex “AJ” Garr, found his way here.

He left his job working with kindergarten through eighth grade students at a charter  school near Kalamazoo and has moved to Morenci.

“I had the desire to work with older kids and I heard that Morenci had a really, really good reputation,” the Pinckney native said.

AJ was told to expect about 20 students in the band, but he’s known as a recruiter.

“I went to find the kids who quit band,” he said—several because of scheduling problems.

When the band takes the field at the Aug. 30 home football game, AJ expects to have 37 marchers plus a drum major—all from the high school. That includes five cheerleaders and four football players. He said he’s willing to share.

The band will present a Beatles tribute for the first game, then work on at least one more show for other home games. Fancy formations won’t be the goal with only 37 members. Instead, the band will work on maximizing volume.

In addition to the marching season, AJ intends to put emphasis on solo and ensemble competition, to get the sixth grade band organized, and finally, to get to know the elementary school students and spark an interest in instrumental music.

AJ attended Central Michigan and Wayne State before earning a degree in music education from Grand Valley State University.


teacher.hoardMichelle Hoard

Spanish teacher Michelle Hoard is about to engage in something never before tried here: a foreign language teacher shared with another district.

Michelle describes the arrangement as an emerging program, noting that it could change in the future. As of now, however, she will divide her time every other day in Morenci and Hudson—five days in each district within a two-week span.

The Pittsford High School graduate earned a degree from Calvin College, then went to work in the family business, Sir James Outerwear. She also raised a family with her husband.

A few years ago she decided to earn a teaching degree and enrolled in Siena Heights’ post-baccalaureate intensive certification program.

Michelle taught Spanish and accounting for two years with the Pittsford school district (“I speak Spanish and numbers,” she said) before taking the Morenci/Hudson job.

When she’s at Hudson, her Morenci students will supplement their classroom time with a combination of the on-line Rosetta Stone language program and internet research on the culture, history and geography of Spanish-speaking countries. The cultural aspect would have been part of a five-days-a-week classroom program.

Michelle has coached several sports and still serves as Pittsford’s junior high basketball coach.

She enjoys a variety of outdoor activities in her spare time.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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