At Group Travel Network, we feel that everyone who crosses our path is intended to become a welcomed member of our extended family. These individuals come in many forms including clients, vendors, colleagues and more. We are so proud of our family, we decided to share some of the backgrounds to some of these incredible people. Each month we are going to spotlight a member of our family tree. One such GTN Family Member has been an inspiration to us from day one!
Educator Spotlight - Jody Dunn
Crestview High School’s Big Red Machine is celebrating their 80th year as a marching band this year. Yep, you read that right, EIGHTIETH! And their proud director, Jody Dunn, has been there for all of it. (Just kidding, but that’d be pretty cool!) This milestone makes Crestview one of the oldest high school bands in the Southeastern United States. Jody is a one-of-a-kind guy and a dedicated director proud to be a part of such a huge celebration with the Big Red Machine.
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Jody knew from an early age that he wanted to be a band educator. His middle school band director, Joe Hooten, was the first to inspire this idea and the passion only grew from there. In high school and college, David Cadle and Dr. Thomas Fraschillo continued to influence his music educator career, and Mr. Dunn has now been teaching music for 27 years. In these years, he claims his work days are busy, busy, busy. A typical day in the life of Jody includes reading (and sometimes replying) to a never-ending list of emails, teaching classes all day, not eating lunch because of this, and doing lots of management and logistics to make his student's band dreams come true.
Averaging 280 members each year, the Big Red Machine has performed extensively throughout the United States with appearances at the Jingle Elf Parade in Chicago, the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix, the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, the Hollywood Christmas Parade in California, the Macy’s Holiday Parade in Orlando, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City as well as being the featured half-time band at the Blue-Gray game in Montgomery, Alabama. In 2008, the band performed on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and in 2012 the Big Red Machine represented the entire Southeastern United States in the 2012 Tournament of Roses Parade. Besides the Big Red Machine marching band, the Crestview band program has four concert bands, two jazz bands, and a nationally recognized color guard. The band has been awarded the Otto J. Krushaar Award several times by the Florida Bandmasters Association for all superior ratings from all adjudicators at district and state level music performance assessments. This year, you can find Crestview’s marching band performing in the 99th annual Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade!
Jody is absolutely dedicated to his students and wants their experience in his classroom to be life-changing. Jody has implemented a Band Signing Day like you would see for athletic scholarship attendees for members of the Big Red Machine’s Seniors. In 2016 twelve seniors accepted Band scholarships to schools like Auburn, Northwest Florida State College, Florida State, University of Florida, Southern Miss and the University of West Florida. Last year Jody’s students earned more than $1 million in scholarships. With the success of Jody’s Band Signing Day many other schools have adopted the tradition.
He believes that when he’s on the podium, he’s at home. Mr. Dunn takes great pride in the fact that his career allows him to touch so many young lives with the gift of music and hopes that their passion for the arts will only continue to grow as they do. If any of his students also aspire to become a music educator, he leaves them this advice: focus on your students and make sure you love kids- choose another profession if they are not your first priority. In his free time (which isn’t often!), you can find Jody doing band and music-related activities, bonding with his four kids (Olivia, Elizabeth, Joseph, and Elijah), fishing and playing golf.
“The key to the mystery of a great artist is that for reasons unknown, he will give away his energies and his life just to make sure that one note follows another... and leaves us with the feeling that something is right in the world.” Leonard Bernstein
Jody has been a part of the GTN Family from day one and we are very thankful for his continued friendship.