THE LAST CLASS; Band Director's Teaching Style Inspired His Students DONALD REYNOLDS He Helped Kids Learn about Music for 23 Years at West Nassau High School
Conrad, Sara, The Florida Times Union
Byline: SARA CONRAD
Donald Reynolds is a musician, but his real talent may be relationship building.
The latter is a skill witnessed firsthand by his oldest daughter, Faith Sims, who played clarinet in the '90s in her father's class at West Nassau High School.
She said her father would build relationships with his students so that they wanted to succeed - for him.
Sims said they would try to get into state competitions because they knew it was important to him and they cared about his success.
"We wanted him to succeed," she said.
His teaching style inspired some of his students, including Sims, to become band directors and teachers.
"I've learned how to build a relationship to get people to perform," she said. "They realize that I'm here for their success and as long as they learn that, then they'll listen when I teach."
Reynolds also taught Sims how to build a life-long appreciation for music. Sims continues to play clarinet and was part of a performing quintet at his retirement party in May.
He started out as a band director in 1975 at Callahan Middle School. He taught at West Nassau High School for 23 years. He compared his class to a family, watching students grow close after playing music together for sometimes all four years of their high school experience.
"It was enjoyable, seeing them progress," he said.
INSPIRED FROM HIS YOUTH
Reynolds always loved band and orchestra classes in high school and studied music at Jacksonville University after graduation. He played trumpet since he was 11. Later, he added French horn, trombone, tuba, saxophone and clarinet.
Throughout his music career he has played with the First Coast Wind Ensemble, the Jacksonville Symphony, at weddings and traveled around Florida with Barnum & Bailey Circus and Holiday on Ice. But he wanted a family life, and knew he didn't want to travel and perform forever. Being a band director afforded him the flexibility to spend time with his family while allowing him to pursue his passion.
"It's something I enjoy. It's not just a vocation," he said of his love for music.
CHARLES "BEN" ROSS
Fernandina Beach Middle School
Ben Ross moved from Jacksonville to West Virginia in 1972 to work for the local railroad. …