Samantha Jones has always had a love for music, and that love would eventually lead her to Thomasville, Georgia, where she has become the first female band director in Thomasville High School history to lead the “Sound of the Pound.”
Jones found her calling one day when she was 16 years old. She was talking to her high school band director, and said, ‘I wish I could do band forever’ to which he replied, ‘Well, why don’t you?’ From that point forward, she was set on being a music educator, despite some pushing from her mother to be a math teacher.
“My mom wanted me to do math because she thought it would be a more stable career option, and honestly, math was one of my favorite subjects,” said Jones.
Jones grew up in Winder, Georgia and is a graduate of Winder-Barrow High School where she spent her formative years in the band. As a senior in high school, Jones spent time preparing for her future in music education.
“My ambitions revolved around things that I thought would help me be a better teacher: winning auditions, learning as many instruments as possible, and gaining teaching experience. I joined every ensemble I could on different instruments, practiced around 3 to 4 hours a day, and taught as many private lessons as I could, often for free, to gain experience,” said Jones.
After high school, Jones went on to earn her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education at Columbus State University and then a Master’s Degree in Music Education at University of Georgia. But it was the love of marching band that held her attention.
“Much of my musical education can also be attributed to the years I have spent as a member of the Atlanta CV Drum and Bugle Corps, a non-school affiliated ensemble,” said Jones.
An opportunity to do what she loved in a place that was welcoming was the key to her decision to come to Thomasville High School.
“I had several options at the time I chose Thomasville High School. I came down for an interview and watched the band’s end-of-year concert. Everyone was extremely friendly and welcoming and the kids sounded amazing. I left feeling really positive about the community, the administration, and the band itself. It didn’t even take me twenty minutes to make the decision to come here. Really, this is my dream job,” said Jones.
In addition to teaching the Symphonic Band class and directing the Marching Band, Mrs. Jones teaches 8th grade band at MacIntyre Park Middle School. She also volunteered to teach a beginning band class to high school students and to restart the chorus program at Thomasville High School by teaching a chorus class.
“Her work ethic is second to none and she really cares about the school and our students,” said Thomasville High School Assistant Principal Chris Merritt. “We are lucky to have found such a driven person to take over and grow our band program.”
“Different things are exciting about each class. I get a huge variety throughout my day in terms of course content and student experience. I get to the see the joy and excitement of learning to make sounds on an instrument for the first time back to back with students who are coming into their own and seeing almost a decade of hard work finally pay off,” said Jones.
Lena Mickens, a junior at Thomasville High School, is in Mrs. Jones’s band class. She shared that Mrs. Jones has become one of her favorite teachers, despite the fact that she has not been part of the band before.
“She breaks down instruction so that it isn’t that hard. She works with you and helps you. It is honestly my favorite class,” said Mickens.
Mickens indicated that it was Jones’s approach to students and the work that was so impressive.
“If I say I can’t do it, Mrs. Jones says, you can’t do it yet,” said Mickens.
Ninth grader Karis Lane has chorus class with Jones and she shared that Jones is “calm, very strict, but she cares for you no matter what.”
Lane said she was very excited at the opportunity to have a chorus class again at Thomasville High.
“It is amazing that Mrs. Jones would take on more work, when she didn’t have to, just because she loves music and she wants us to be happy,” said Lane.
Jones says that learning music is important for her students.
“Music gives students an outlet for their emotions and tools for expression. Working in a large group ensemble teaches life skills, discipline, team-work, and delayed gratification. It also serves as a family and an emotional and social support group. Groups like band can be absolutely catalytic in improving the quality of students’ lives,” said Jones.
Jones added that she has a very important lesson that she wants all of her students to learn: “Hard work will trump talent and privilege given enough time, that they have something unique and valuable to contribute to this world, and that they can and should continue to grow as musicians and as people for as long as they can.”
Jones is married to her husband Zack, who she met in high school.
“He was not in the band,” Jones said with a grin.
She also has two cats who she loves dearly, a Siamese named Jade and a Japanese Bob Tail named Kali.
“I spend more time than I should taking cute pictures of them and plastering them all across my Facebook,” said Jones.
While she enjoys reading and playing video games, her real passion outside of music is learning the Japanese language.
“I studied abroad in my undergrad at Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakatashi, Japan. I had no desire to travel before, but I absolutely fell in love with the country while I was there. I continued learning Japanese when I returned to America and I really enjoy it. I usually study at least an hour a day,” said Jones.
Jones actually began her new position at Thomasville High School in July and had to jump immediately into band camp and getting a halftime show created and to put on the field in a very short amount of time. While it has not been easy, she says the support she has received from parents, the community, and the staff has helped the band get going for this season.
“I have received a tremendous amount of support from the administration and staff of the City Schools. They are going above and beyond to provide the band program with tools and resources that they need to be successful. I have never seen an administration be this supportive and welcoming,” said Jones.
Jones is enjoying the small town closeness after living in Columbus and Athens, sharing that she had the same neighbors in Athens for two years and never even met them.
“On my first day in Thomasville my neighbors introduced themselves, hugged me, and gave me their number with the request that I contact them if I need absolutely anything. The town feels a lot closer and kinder, and I really enjoy it here,” said Jones.