Kelsey McIntyre: Middle School Maestro
Every weekday morning River Oaks Middle School band teacher Kelsey McIntyre drinks a cup of coffee at 7 a.m. to get ready for the day. She has a lavender coffee maker in the back corner of her office that provides her the jump start each morning.
McIntyre hasn’t entirely figured out how to work the fresh-out-of-the-box contraption, but it does the trick to prepare her for bus duty.
A native of Duncan, S.C., McIntyre went to James F. Byrnes High School where her dad was the band director. She played trumpet in the marching and concert bands and was influenced by her father.
“He made me love music and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else,” she said.
McIntyre grew up a Gamecocks fan and enrolled at South Carolina after graduating high school. During her time in Columbia she was a member of the marching band, drum core, concert ensembles and taught local high school and middle school lessons. She was also a member of the renowned Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps in Fort Mill for three years.
“I loved marching band because of the competitiveness of it,” she said. “The Carolina Crown is something that looks good for your resume and is more relevant to the kids at Fort (Dorchester).”
After graduating with a degree in music education, McIntyre was hired as the band teacher at River Oaks Middle and the color guard teacher at Fort Dorchester High. The school’s appreciation of the fine arts has made her transition to teaching go smoothly.
“It’s been great working here and our principal (Scott Matthews) is really awesome. He’s a former band director so he loves the band.”
She also praised the district for helping her in the classroom, citing a pair of new stand racks that cost $400 each.
Next year McIntyre would like to separate classes into brass and woodwinds in lieu of the current mixed format. Teaching the middle school age group is something that appeals to her.
“This is such a pivotal time of influence in their lives and I have the opportunity to sway them in the right direction,” she said. “I love teaching real music, music that I like and the seriousness they have.”
The students are currently learning the chromatic scale and syncopation in anticipation of upcoming Fright Nights concerts. Music at the Oct.30 concert will be the theme songs from Jaws and The Adams Family as well as a hit from the King of Pop.
“We’ll also be playing ‘Thriller’ and you’d be surprised how many kids know it,” she said about the almost 31-year-old Michael Jackson song. “A lot of them know it from 13 Going On 30.”
McIntyre said that she can tell what kids really want to pursue band by the practice logs. Each night the kids take home their instruments and fill out a time log for how long they practiced. She said that while some of the students may be lying on the sheets, the ones who tell the truth, like her coffee, are what make her day.
“The kids who I can tell really love it, that’s what keeps me going every day.”