DANVILLE — Laura Garside never expected that one day she would return to her alma mater as a band manager.
Garside, then known as Laura Weir, played saxophone in the band Marching Ironmen during her high school career. After graduating in 2000, she studied music at Mansfield University. She graduated in 2004 and went to work that year in the Williamsport area school district as the middle school marching band director and assistant high school marching band director.
“I just finished my 18th year of teaching there,” said Garside, 40, who was hired last month as a music teacher and band director at Danville-area high school. .
While in Williamsport, she earned a master’s degree from Lebanon Valley College in 2014.
“It was not a goal to come back,” Garside said, adding, however, “It was time for a change.”
Garside and her husband, Marc, who teaches percussion at his own business, currently live in Williamsport.
She will replace Tom Hiravi, who will continue as a music teacher and orchestra director in college.
Hiravi, was the director of the high school orchestra and music teacher, but extended his duties to the middle school last year after the departure of a teacher who had been there for a year. The district was unable to hire a replacement for last year, so Hiravi covered both positions.
“I chose to stay in college in order to strengthen and grow the 6th-8th grade music program, which has seen a high turnover of principals in recent years,” Hiravi commented. “I intend to continue to support music and drama programs at the high school level, as one of the great strengths of Danville’s music program is that its teachers believe in a cohesive and interconnected approach to education. music from kindergarten to 12th grade.
Hiravi said Garside would be a great addition to the high school curriculum.
“She brings a lot of experience to the job,” Hiravi said. “She grew up here in Danville. She knows the community. His parents (Tom and Mary Weir) are here.
She completes the district’s musical team which also includes Rebecca Pritchard, choir director from sixth to tenth grade; Todd Egger, middle school music elective teacher; Hiravi’s wife, Jordan Hiravi, Liberty Valley Middle School Band and Choir, and Savannah Cole, music teacher at Danville Elementary School.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge of teaching high school after teaching in middle school,” Garside said.
She said she would also like to teach concert band. She said older students have a higher level of musicality.
The Danville marching band has between 100 and 110 students this year. Garside said she enjoyed the challenges of playing music while walking in predetermined motions.
“It takes a lot of individual responsibility for the group product to be successful,” she said.
She started working earlier this month directing the band’s students during rehearsals. Music camp is scheduled for the first two weeks of August, when students will work on marching and music at the same time.
Audiences can see the band perform at their premiere party on August 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the stadium. The group will perform their show at halftime during the first game of football on August 26 in Bloomsburg.
The first day of school is September 6, the day after Labor Day, due to construction in Liberty Valley.