Morenci has two new teachers on staff this year.
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.
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.