Jim Meredith ’74 recently was elected as a Bandworld Legion of Honor Laureate. This most select group of band directors represents all areas of North America consisting of laureates honored since 1989 at the Sousa Foundation’s Awards Ceremony.
On Dec. 21, 2012, he was one of eight middle or high school band directors from around the country to receive this award at an event in Chicago. Meredith was nominated by Legion of Honor Committee Chairman Terry Austin, the director of bands at Virginia Commonwealth University. He saw Meredith’s work first hand when he judged the Sandusky Middle School band at a competition in Richmond.
Meredith has been the Band Director of Sandusky Middle School in Lynchburg, Va. for 32 years.
“I wake up in the morning and I can’t wait to get to school,” said Meredith. “Everybody says that you’ll know when it’s time to retire…that you’ll just know. I have never thought about the end. These kids are a lot of fun. This is my niche and this is where I belong”
Criteria for the annual award include teaching for at least 15 years, maintaining a high-quality concert band program and contributing significantly to the profession through dedication to bands and band music. Meredith meets all of these requirements.
“I have been blessed with a long and successful career in music education,” remarked Meredith. “I attribute this to my Christian faith and its calling upon my life and to my passion. Teachers with passion motivate and inspire their students in and out of the classroom with love and accountability.”
Meredith goes on to say that looking back, most of his passion is rooted from Shenandoah. It was seeing the passion and work ethic of his instructors in Winchester that made him want to have that same desire in his career.
“I didn’t recognize it at the time but while I was at Shenandoah Conservatory of Music, I was guided by passionate teachers who held me accountable to the highest musical and educational standards,” said Meredith. “Some of them were David Summers, Donald Black, Paul Noble, Stephen Johnston and Charlotte Collins. Their uncompromising standards of excellence and their genuine care for me as a person set an example for me as an educator that I hope I have imparted to my students.”
Winning this award isn’t the first of the distinguished accolades that Meredith has recently received. Other honors include the Virginia Music Educator’s “Educator of the Year” for 2010-2011 and the National Band Association’s Citation of Excellence.
“If you stick around long enough, they are going to start throwing awards at you if you do anything good,” joked Meredith. “However, we do have a really good band program.”