Although Jenkins schools had one of the top band programs in the eastern part of the state at one time, the program has shrunk in recent years due to the decline in enrollment and now finds itself short of instruments. But the band and music program in Jenkins Independent Schools is making a comeback under the direction of Millstone native Jenny Collins.
Ms. Collins is the former Director of Bands at Goose Creek High School in South Carolina, near Charleston. She also served as Director of Bands at Berkeley High School in Moncks Corner, S.C., after serving as Band Director in Whitley County. She received a Bachelor’s Degree of Music Education at Morehead State University and a Master of Music Education Degree with an Emphasis in Conducting from Wichita State University.
Collins is the daughter of Shelby Jean Collins and Jerry Collins of Millstone. Shelby Collins is a native of Jenkins and was a member of the Jenkins High School Marching Band in its heyday in the late 1960s. Jenny Collins brings 18 years of experience in music education and band direction to Jenkins. At the November meeting of the Jenkins Independent Schools Board of Education, she told the board her goal is to increase the size of the band and music program, and improve the quality of music education in the Jenkins system.
Collins gave the board a detailed presentation of her plan to revamp the music program, including a curriculum plan that addresses music education from elementary school through high school. In Grades 3 and 4, she will emphasize general music instruction, including piano and recorders (small woodwind instruments that are part of the flute family). Band instruction in all instruments will begin in Grade 5 and continue through high school.
Collins also addressed the shortage of instruments in her inventory proposal. She told the board the band is missing a lot of instruments and said it will need to replace them incrementally due to the expense. She asked the board to add a budget for the band to its overall budgeting process as part of the plan. Superintendent Mike Genton said he had spoken to Finance Officer Candala Gibson about that matter and next year’s budget is underway.
Collins said that she has borrowed a tuba from Letcher County Central High School, but the band needs marimbas (percussion) and several other larger instruments, including kettle drums. She said she knows money will be an issue, but added that she has had success with fundraising in the past, including through the Go- FundMe website. She said the smaller instruments like trumpets, trombones, and clarinets are usually purchased by students, but she will work to provide instruments for everyone interested in band.
Among the plans Collins discussed are a website for the band that is interlinked with the school system’s site. The band already has a Facebook page. She also wants the band to participate in county events such as Jenkins Days, the Mountain Heritage Festival, and other events. She added that participation in music, especially at the higher level, correlates well with higher educational achievement. Superintendent Genton said he and Gibson have already discussed funding and promised that the band will not be left out.
In other business, Candala
Gibson reported that the general fund balance stands at $791,154.99, and said she will be starting on the draft budget in December. Board Member Sarah Brown asked Gibson to try to be sure to make room for band funds. Brown also thanked Ms. Collins for her work and praised her efforts. In other funding matters, Family Resource Director Angie Collins said the center will have to tighten its belts until new funds are available and that it has applied for $11,000 in new funding. She added that grant applications will be due March 1. Collins said some of the resource center’s activities are as diverse as taking students on college visits, and putting on Secret Santa workshops and Letters to Santa to younger students. The letters to Santa will be read on WXKQ, 103.9. The center gave away 30 Thanksgiving boxes from donated items, and is working toward providing food and gifts to 130 families for Christmas.