Craig Day, News On 6
VERDIGRIS, Oklahoma -- Folks in Verdigris are proud of a teacher making beautiful music and wonderful memories.
Euell Hanna has been the Verdigris band director for 25 years.
"He's a great instructor, knows his music. He's an awesome guy," Craig Cathey, a former band parent, said.
"I'm a music teacher today, I think. Partly because of Mr. Hanna. So I'm really grateful," Grace Hearn, a former student, said.
Hanna started teaching jazz band students before Verdigris even had a high school.
"I got here and the band room was about the size of a large men's room," he said.
But over the years, he's grown the program and is one of only a handful of band directors at the same job for 25 years.
"The community is so good," he said.
So good, he's still teaching even two years after he could have retired.
"I love to come to work," he said. "Everyday."
And it shows.
"I can tell he loves what he does, and he will always love what he does," Joe Barger, a senior band student, said.
"He has a passion for it," Ryan Mercer, a junior band student, said. "And he shares that with us everyday."
"He just makes it really good. And we're always laughing all the time," Sara Morgan, a senior drum major, said.
Laughing, but also learning, with encouragement and sometimes prodding.
"I came into his office one time and I told him Mr. Hanna, 'Last night I practiced for two hours.' And he said, 'Well, if you're going to make it to all state next year, you've got to bump that up to four,'" said Sarah Groover, a junior band student.
But hard work pays off. Hundreds of Verdigris band students have earned college scholarships in music.
"One of my favorite things is to be able to get a kid a way to go to college," Hanna said.
Whether it's music in college or not, at the very least he hopes they'll learn to love music and get a lifetime of enjoyment from it. He says that's what it is all about and what keeps him teaching and sharing his passion.
"I'm a happy guy. I'm always happy," he said. "I could be happier. We have contests next week and I'm not quite ready."
Mr. Hanna is now not only teaching children of some of his former students, he's also teaching a few of their grandkids. The Verdigris Jazz Band is going for its 20th state championship this year.