By Martie Thompson
Jermaine Reynolds is the director of bands at Ponte Vedra High School, but that might not be the case if not for a last minute schedule change by his middle school principal. Reynolds, who was born and raised in Alachua, Fla., was a member of his middle school chorus for two years when the principal ended the program. He wanted to stay with his music teacher, Amy Beres, so he decided to give band a try. What followed was an auspicious music career at Santa Fe High School, where he played baritone and was the head drum major as well as band captain his senior year.
Reynolds took a few years off to work after graduating from high school in 2004; he moved to Jacksonville to attend the University of North Florida in 2007, graduating in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in music education. From there, he assisted with area bands including Nease High School before being named director of bands at Newberry High School. He spent two years there before moving to Citrus High School. Finally, he arrived at Ponte Vedra High School in 2016, where he now directs the Ocean of Sound band of 108 in addition to teaching classes in concert band, jazz band and percussion/guard.
Ponte Vedra’s marching show this year is entitled “Jack” and it is basically the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. Reynolds said things are really clicking this year for the band as they perform their first competition-style show. They are busy learning the drill for the closing number in anticipation of their first competition at Middleburg High School on Sept. 30. Reynolds said that although they are behind in their preparations due to Hurricane Irma, he knows that band programs across the state are in similar circumstances.
- Who influenced you to want to become a band director?
Definitely my high school band director, Kathy Lavay. I knew I wanted to be a teacher by the time I started high school, I just didn’t know what subject. When I joined band in my freshman year, she immediately had a huge impact on my life.
- What is the most satisfying part of your job?
Seeing the looks on my students’ faces after they have had a really good performance and they know it — when it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, but they know they did a good job.
- What is the most challenging part of your job?
I’d say dealing with so many students. Ponte Vedra is the largest band I have directed. We grew from 97 students last year, my first year, to 108 this year. That is in comparison to 40 musicians at Newberry and about 60 at Citrus.
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I definitely see myself still at Ponte Vedra High School, directing one of the strongest and most respected bands in the northern Florida area. I’d like the band to grow to about 200 by that time. When I went to college at UNF, I fell in love with Jacksonville and for the four years I spent directing bands in Newberry and Citrus, my goal was always to find a perfect job for myself in the Jacksonville area. I think Ponte Vedra High School is a perfect fit.
- Which superhero do you identify with?
Superman. A lot of parents and students have asked me over the years how I can do so many things at one time and I always say jokingly that it’s because I’m Superman.
Photo courtesy Jermaine Reynolds