Buckeye high school band director wins Gaydos and Chad’s teacher tribute
PHOENIX — A Buckeye high school band director has been named KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad Show‘s Pay Tribute to a Teacher winner for December, presented by Your Valley Toyota Dealers.
Tracy Meldrum was hired straight out of college when Verrado High School opened in 2006 and inaugurated a band program with nine students, which over the past 16 years has grown to 96 members.
Under the direction of Meldrum, the school’s band has competed in over 70 competitions, 10 state championships and six state finals.
Her ability to cultivate a respectable program for a brand new high school with her love for music, sense of humor and advocacy for kids prompted a person to nominate her for the $2,500 prize.
“She encourages confidence in her students to express their passion for music and accepts everyone who shows interest, even if they have no experience,” someone wrote in her submission letter.
“Tracy builds confidence by focusing on the students’ strengths, listens to individual needs and nurtures camaraderie, creating an environment where students feel welcomed into the Viper Vanguard family.”
Her mark on the school will always have a place by not only starting the band program but also building the jazz and symphonic band, winter drumline and color guard, guitar and music theory classes as well as composing the school’s fight song.
She also creates ways to offset costs through fundraising, arranging music and writing drills, in addition to building partnerships with feeder schools.
“I know the Viper Vanguard may not be the most prestigious program, but the core of the program Tracy has fostered runs deeper than awards,” the nominator wrote. “Students embrace a culture of connectedness, leadership, individuality, unity, acceptance, dedication, respect, balance, perseverance, and fun, empowered to be part of something bigger than themselves.”
Attached to her side for 13 of her 16 years as band director is her daughter, who Meldrum says has gone with her to football games, band competitions and fall band camp.
“Being a high school band director, it takes up a lot of time,” Meldrum said, adding her husband is also a band director. “My daughter has been born into this lifestyle.”
She said her daughter has been a trooper sharing her mom with members of the high school’s band. That’s why she has decided to use the money to take her daughter on a trip to the most magical place in the world – Disneyland.
“I want to take her somewhere so I can just be her mom without everybody else,” Meldrum said, becoming emotional.
“I’m so thankful for being able to do all those things with band and don’t get me wrong I’m so thankful for all the opportunities that my career has afforded us and it’s been amazing, but she always has to share me.”
While Meldrum’s daughter has been to Disneyland before with the school’s band, this time it will just be the three of them.
“She’s going to be so excited,” Meldrum said.