The student news site of Center Hill High School.

The Pony Express

The student news site of Center Hill High School.

The Pony Express

The student news site of Center Hill High School.

The Pony Express

Q&A with band director Michael Campbell, CH’s August Teacher of the Month.

Ashtyn McAdams

Selected Center Hill High’s Teacher of the Month for August 2023, band director Charles “Michael” Campbell motivates his students to make every rep better than the last.

Campbell, a Mississippi native himself, earned his Associates Degree in Music from Northeast Mississippi Community College before receiving his B.A. in Music from the University of Mississippi. On both campuses, he marched along to the beat—performing with the colleges’ marching bands, choirs, and the schools’ other collegiate music programs.

In 2016, Campbell took his musical talents to Arkansas, where he obtained his Masters of Teaching from the University of Arkansas at Monticello. After teaching elementary music at various schools in Hamburg, Arkansas, Campbell became the high school’s band director before moving back to Mississippi.

As the assistant guard instructor and assistant band director at Kosciusko High School and Kosciusko Junior High School, Campbell helped elevate the school’s music department, leading the program to a 4A State Marching Band Championship in 2018 and a Silver Medalist in the Mississippi Indoor Association in 2019.

Ashtyn McAdams

Campbell has been at the Hill since 2020, teaching first at the middle school for two years before transferring to the high school. Since becoming a Mustang, Campbell solidified the CHHS band program as one of the best in the state. At the start of the 2022-2023 school year, Campbell began his first year as the band’s head director, and under his tutelage last year, the band earned superior ratings across the board (drum major, color guard, percussion, and band) at MHSAA Region Marching Band Festival, named class 2A Champions at the University of Memphis’s Bandmaster Championships, and and received Superior Rating on Stage and an Excellent Rating in Sight-reading at the MHSAA Concert Band Assessment.

To help students and staff learn more about August’s Teacher of the Month, Pony Express student reporter Kambriel Chine sat down and asked him some questions.

Question: What do you teach?

Campbell: I teach band and general music. [With] band, we’re looking at 9th through 12th grade [at] varying levels. There’s not really an advance placement band. […] Then, general music is a ninth grade class, so we have two blocks of that as well.

Question: How long have you been teaching at the Hill?

Campbell: This is year two, but I was at Center Hill Middle School for two years, so this is technically four years at the Hill.

Question: How do you motivate your students? 

Campbell: With motivating [band] students. I don’t look at them as students. I look at them as musicians. Most of these kids have been with me for a few years, and for us, it’s just the joy of [playing] music.

Now, we do have hard days where we’re outside learning drill or doing something, and we’re not quite getting it. But it’s just, “Hey, remember where we were two to three weeks ago, and we could not get this far, and now look at where you’re at. So imagine where you can be in another two weeks.”

So we always talk about setting the standard at Center Hill High School for Band, and what that means is we’re going to make everyday better than it was yesterday, like Mr. Witt says. But also with every rep—every time we do something, the next time we do it, we’re going to do it a little bit better than we did the last time.

Leviticus Johnson

Question: What made you want to become a teacher? 

Campbell: So I was actually, almost a farmer. I grew up on a [family] farm. [But] I fell in love with band in ninth grade and did band all through middle school. Then there was an accident in the family, and music was what I fell back on. I didn’t have to think about it. I just did it, and I knew that I wanted to share the joy that I found in music with other students—to help them use [music] as an outlet [rather than] “Oh, so I’ve got to take band.”

Question: What is one thing that you want your students to get out of your class?

Campbell: Tomorrow can be a better day than yesterday was. I want [my] students to understand that “Hey, we might not have had a great day yesterday, but tomorrow is a new day. We’re going to keep moving forward.” 

Question: What is one quote/saying that gives you motivation to get up in the morning?

Campbell: Oh, god, you stumped me there. (laughs) Let’s see…a quote and motivation. “Get out of bed in the morning.” That’s the hardest thing to do is get out of bed—the hardest part of the day.” It was something my dad used to say when we were working on the farm. It was “Get up, have a great day. People are counting on you. Let’s go.”

Question: How do you feel about being Teacher of the Month?

Campbell: I was shocked. I wasn’t expecting it. Really, I think being selected as teacher of the month is not [that] I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do. I’m helping the students achieve and do what they need to do. To me, it’s more about what the students have achieved, and I’m helping guide their success. [It’s not me] saying, “Hey, I did it. I did it. I did it.” We don’t believe in “I” situations. We’re a “we” down in the band hall.

Ashtyn McAdams

Question: What is your favorite thing about teaching?

Campbell: Watching the growth between everyday students, even students who aren’t mine, and just the rapport that I build with other teachers and the rapport I have with my students. Watching them grow from day one when we start [band] in July, and they can’t move their feet in time to now, where [they’re] doing great things.

Question: What is the next question you want us to ask the next Teacher of the Month?

Campbell: How many questions did they ask you? We’ll make it a funny one. 

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About the Contributors
Kambriel Chine
Kambriel Chine, Staff/Reporter
Kambriel Chine is a staff reporter for The Pony Express and The Mustang.
Ashtyn McAdams
Ashtyn McAdams, Faculty Adviser
Licensed in English and Social Studies, Ashtyn McAdams teaches Oral Communications and Foundations of Journalism at Center Hill High School. She currently advises the Hill's student publications of The Pony Express (newspaper), The Mustang (yearbook), and inkstained (literary magazine); and coaches the Speech and Debate team.
Leviticus Johnson
Leviticus Johnson, Business Manager
Leviticus Johnson is the Business Manager for The Pony Express and The Mustang.

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