1. The Education Gradebook

Powell Middle, Nature Coast Technical High share band director

BROOKSVILLE — Ross McCarthy, 24, is the Powell Middle School band director by day. After school, three days a week, he's also the band director at Nature Coast Technical High School.

"I have a full course load here and I do six hours a week after school at Nature Coast," the third-year band director said. Football games add five hours a week when there are home games. For directing the Nature Coast band, McCarthy earns the band director supplement.

Because of budget cuts, Nature Coast went without a band last school year.

To get things going again at the school, McCarthy talked to his principal, Jamie Young, who approached Nature Coast's principal, Toni-Ann Noyes. They met and gave the go-ahead for McCarthy to start up the band program to see what he could build.

"I would like to establish a full and consistent band program at Nature Coast," he said

At Powell, McCarthy directs the concert, symphonic, jazz and three beginning bands. Right now, the Nature Coast band is made of only 12 members. "Twelve very dedicated freshmen and sophomores," McCarthy said.

Powell band students zoned for Nature Coast or other students who choose to go there for the school's programs, and who want to remain in a band, were out of luck until McCarthy stepped in. Many students at Challenger K8, where McCarthy's wife, Michelle, is band director, also move on to Nature Coast.

Now seventh- and eighth-graders, Ross McCarthy said, "feel comfortable knowing they have a place to go at Nature Coast. There's a lot of room to grow."

McCarthy had plenty of local band training himself. "I grew up here," he said. "This is home for me. I actually went to this middle school."

As a Central High School freshman, McCarthy was a student of Joe Harrin, the current Hernando High band director (who also directs the Parrott Middle School band.) It was a small band at the time, McCarthy said, but Harrin built it up.

"By the time I was a junior, it was a full 60-piece band with a marching show and superiors (at competitions). Then Harrin left for Hernando High, McCarthy finished at Central High and went on to Stetson University to become a band director himself, a job he really enjoys.

"I love it," he said. "I love it very much."