1. The Education Gradebook

Hernando High band leader guides middle school band, too

BROOKSVILLE — When Bruce Brazinski retired as the D.S. Parrott Middle School band director at the end of last school year, there was no plan to hire a replacement — but definitely no desire to see the program end.

And because the Parrott band feeds the Hernando High School band, the two principals, Parrott's Brent Gaustad and Hernando's Leechele Booker, got together and decided that Joseph Harrin, the Hernando High band director for 13 years, could teach at both schools.

Harrin, 35, starts every day just after 7 a.m., dropping in at Hernando High in Brooksville to get organized and pick up anything he might need at Parrott.

He then heads to the middle school campus just north of the city, where he teaches beginning and advanced classes from 8:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m.

When his Parrott classes end, he's back in his car, arriving at Hernando High in time for his 10:52 a.m. class. He has four classes there, finishing at 2:20 p.m.

"It's the same amount of classes," he said, but more stress because of the travel.

Keeping Parrott's program, he said, is worth it.

"If I didn't (teach) there, there wouldn't be a program."

There is a bit of loyalty stirred into the mix, too.

"I went to Parrott Middle School," he said. "Mr. Brazinski was my teacher. If Parrott Middle School stopped having a band there, then Hernando High School would stop having a band in a couple of years."

In keeping the middle school band going, Harrin said he hopes the numbers will increase enough to warrant a full-time position there.

Harrin's days are not only full during school hours. He also conducts band rehearsals and works the middle school and Hernando High football games, where the band performs and sells concessions. There are also weekend band competitions.

Harrin pointed out that the arrangement does have positive aspects. He has some control over how future Hernando High students are prepared. He can also hold joint programs in which older, more experienced students play with younger ones.

"I plan to do more joint activities," Harrin said. The holiday concert will feature both schools and middle school band parents will be able to see what it's like to be part of the high school band.

"The middle school kids are very positive," Harrin said. "They're excited and having a good time with it."