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Verda Ruth Spann Shine - Class of 2017

Verda Ruth Spann was the first child born to Jimmy and Christine Spann on April 3, 1950, in Abilene, Texas. Her father was a police officer and her mother was a homemaker. In 1953, Verda became the proud sister of Jimmy Junior, but their lives suddenly changed forever in 1954 when their dad was killed while on police duty. With the support of her grandparents who lived on a farm and her Aunt Arline, Verda’s family was able to overcome many challenges. Verda learned about love, hard work, courage, honesty, the importance of education, and the determination to succeed. The strength of her family was a primary influence in Verda’s life.

In fifth grade music class in Monahans, Texas, Verda learned to play her first instrument, the flutophone. Her family then moved to San Angelo, Texas, where she joined band in the sixth grade at Day Elementary School in the Lakeview ISD. She wanted to learn to play flute, but her family could not get her an instrument so she checked out a school-owned, silver, one-piece clarinet. She practiced faithfully and loved chair test competitions. At the end of sixth grade, her family bought a house in the San Angelo ISD. Her mom bought Verda a used Normandy wood clarinet and she attended Washington Junior High School, an all seventh grade school. She was in a large beginner band class taught by James Lewis. Her love for the clarinet was now established!

Verda performed in the Edison Junior High School band and orchestra in the eighth and ninth grades. Experiencing full band and the orchestra for the first time was exciting. The band also marched at home football games. Although private lessons were not available in San Angelo, Verda was inspired by a high school student who came to help with the clarinet sectional rehearsals at Edison and played for the group. She placed first chair and earned first division ratings at solo and ensemble contest. Verda formed a clarinet quartet in eighth grade that performed together all the way through high school and competed at the Texas State Solo and Ensemble contest three times. After ninth grade and a recommendation from her directors stressing the potential Verda had as a clarinetist, her mom made sacrifices and paid installments for four years to buy her a LeBlanc LL clarinet, the best clarinet King’s Music Company had to offer.

Verda had an outstanding music education in San Angelo. She attended Central High School and was in the Bobcat Band and Orchestra under the direction of Homer Anderson. She loved marching band and the pinwheels. Verda loved performing in the musicals “South Pacific” and “Jesus Christ, Superstar.” Verda also played in the Junior Orchestra program at San Angelo College. She was invited to perform in a concert with the San Angelo Symphony which was comprised of San Angelo area musicians and supplemented by members of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. That was also her first opportunity to transpose clarinet music. She took music theory in high school for two years, taught by Mrs. Eddie Lou Neal.

Bill Dean named Verda as an Outstanding Clarinet Soloist twice at the Texas State Solo and Ensemble contest in Austin which made Verda extremely proud. Verda also made the All-State Symphonic Band in 1967, directed by Harry Begian, and again in 1968, directed by William Revelli. Her senior year, at the high school spring concert, she performed Concertino in E-flat major, Op. 26 by Carl Maria von Weber with band accompaniment.

While in high school, two assistant band directors from The University of Texas at Austin had a profound effect on Verda’s decision to major in music education. Assistant Band Director Richard Funk taught at Central High School for two years while Verda was there, and in 1967, Assistant Band Director Jerry Taylor followed him during Verda’s senior year. They convinced Verda to apply to The University of Texas at Austin. She received a four-year music department scholarship and a Levi Strauss scholarship for four years. Verda studied clarinet with Leland Munger. She was a member of the Longhorn Band directed by Vincent DiNino and the Wind Ensemble directed by Dr. William Moody. It was there that she met her future husband and soulmate, Tom Shine, who sat beside her in the Wind Ensemble where Verda later became principal clarinet. Dr. Moody was one of Verda’s favorite teachers. He had strong leadership and a special relationship with students, making them feel welcome and eager to learn. Another favorite UT instructor was Janet McGaughey, Professor of Music Theory. Verda appreciated her patience and kindness to her students.

During her senior year, Verda was a student teacher with Verda Herrington at Webb Middle School in Austin. They had fun saying “Good morning, Verda” to each other every day! While Tom worked at the UIL office for Dr. Nelson Patrick in 1970 and then took the job of Assistant Band Director at Angleton High School with Don Hood, Verda completed her Bachelor of Music degree. She graduated and married Tom on May 20, 1972, at the First Unitarian Church of Austin. Tom taught one more year in Angleton while Verda taught clarinet lessons.

Verda’s career in teaching band began in 1973 when Tom accepted the head director position at McCallum High School in Austin. Verda’s first band director position was assisting Verna Covington at Porter Junior High School and traveling to two elementary schools to teach beginners. Verna found time during the school day to work individually with all of the students in the top band. Using extra time during staggered lunchtimes and times before or after school, each student would play an assigned section of music or technical exercise during a time slot that was about six to eight minutes long, and would receive a short oral evaluation. Students would be waiting, lined up in order, and ready to play for Mrs. Covington. The individual attention Verna demonstrated with her students greatly impacted Verda’s teaching.

The next year, she became the director at Webb Sixth Grade Center in Austin. Verda was assisted by Vic Williams and Gerald Campbell. 300 beginning band students at Webb met every other day in mixed classes. Verda began motivating the students to pass objectives from the band method book achievement list. Students who did not pass their objectives the first time were allowed to try again, and they received a brief explanation of what they needed to correct before they tried again. Students could make up the objective before or after school or at the end of their band class. This list of objectives inspired the Shine’s Band Objectives Program which they used throughout the rest of their teaching career.

In 1976 Tom accepted the position as Head Director in the 4A Lampasas ISD. In 1977 Verda accepted a position at Lampasas Junior High School teaching beginners and junior high band as well as sixth grade science and music classes. She was assisted by the high school directors, Tom Shine and David King. After attending summer school at UT several years, Verda completed her master’s in education at UT in 1979.

Then in 1980 Tom was named Director of Bands for 5A Duncanville ISD. While moving to Duncanville that summer, Tom and Verda were excited to find out they were expecting their first baby, Lindsey Catherine, who was born in April, 1981. In the fall, Verda accepted the position of Assistant Director at Byrd with Donna Strain. The Byrd Middle School Symphonic I Band earned the Class C-CC Texas State Honor Band in 1982. Verda co-conducted on all three Byrd Honor Band concerts: in 1983 with Donna Strain; in 2005 with David Brandon; and in 2009 with Brian Beck. Due to the growth of the band program, the Byrd Symphonic II Band also began to perform at UIL Concert and Sight-reading Contest in 1991 under Verda’s direction.

In 1982, an Irving junior high band director, Brian Merrill, was recommended to clinic Verda’s Concert Band at Byrd. Verda talked with Tom about what a great clinic Brian conducted. They were fortunate to have Brian Merrill join the Duncanville High School Band staff in 1983 where he became a major contributor to the band program. He co-conducted the Wind Ensemble at two Honor Band performances in 1999 and 2005. Verda was proud of Tom for insisting that Brian would also receive a Director’s Award at each Honor Band concert. Brian taught in Duncanville for twenty-three years before he became the Adjunct Associate Professor of Music Education and Coordinator of Music Student Teaching at Southern Methodist University.

In the fall of 1984 Mark Bretting moved from Reed Junior High to become the head director at Byrd with Verda. From 1985-1989 Verda taught at Byrd with Pat Dickerson. In 1988 the sixth graders were moved to intermediate schools, and Verda accepted the additional responsibility as director at Daniel Intermediate and she became the Coordinator of Beginner Bands in Duncanville. She was responsible for organizing and testing fifth grade students for sixth grade beginner band. She also traveled to Hardin Intermediate and to Brandenburg Intermediate to teach woodwinds. Verda prepared background information on all of the fifth grade students in Duncanville which assisted the middle school directors in recruiting for sixth grade beginner band. When the district added a third middle school, Verda designed a spreadsheet shared on the network for instrumentation guidelines, which helped improve communication among the directors and schools. Verda and the other directors also met with the intermediate counselors to determine how the students would best be divided into primarily homogeneous classes. The beginner band classes met daily for twenty-five minutes, alternating with PE. Verda’s help as Coordinator of Beginner Bands benefitted all six intermediate and middle schools.

Jeff King became Head Director at Byrd in the fall of 1989 and taught with Verda and Evelio Villarreal. Three years later Rich Williams joined the staff at Byrd and they all taught together five more years through December, 1996. Jeff began teaching ninth grade band and assisted at the high school. Rich moved to Reed to teach with Tammy Fedynich and Brent Luna. In 2002 the Reed Middle School Band was named 3C Honor Band under the direction of Tammy Fedynich, Gary Williams, and Melinda Schweig.

In 1996 David Brandon became the head director at Byrd Middle School and Verda and Michael Peveler served as assistants. In 1998 Brian Beck joined the Byrd team, and for the next several years, Verda shared and learned many skills working with David and Brian. Verda felt strongly that ensembles and solos were an important part of the band curriculum. As the woodwind instructor, she was responsible for finding appropriate woodwind solos and ensembles every year for all of the students in the Byrd cluster. Verda was also responsible for working with various sections of the symphonic bands. Under David Brandon’s leadership, the Byrd Symphonic I Band was named 3C Honor Band for the second time in 2004, and at the same time the Duncanville Wind Ensemble was named 5A Honor Band for the second time.

In 2006 Duncanville opened Kennemer Middle School with Gary Williams as head director and assistant Mark Schroeder. At the same time Gary’s wife, Brittney, became an assistant director at Byrd. In 2008, the Byrd Symphonic I Band directed by Brian Beck was named the CCC Honor Band for the third time. The Duncanville Wind Ensemble won their third Honor Band title the same year. This was also the third Byrd Honor Band Verda co-conducted along with Brian’s assistant, Jed Maus, and former assistant Brittney Williams.

Verda attended many outstanding clinics at TMEA and TBA during her teaching career. She also helped conduct several workshops and served on panel discussions. In the summer of 2006, Eddie Green shared with Verda his pedagogy for teaching beginner woodwind and brass instruments as well as music theory. She shared this wonderful information with all of her student teachers and the rest of the Duncanville middle school band directors. Verda is proud of having the opportunity to observe and work with Mr. Green for so many years. Verda would like to take this opportunity to thank Eddie Green for the many years he has devoted to the Duncanville bands. He continues to conduct clinics and work with the directors in Duncanville.

Verda has personally mentored many student teachers during her career and her work with the younger band directors earned her the nickname “Mama Kitty.” This title became the subject of Brian Beck’s composition, La Madre de los Gatos which premiered at the 2009 Byrd Middle School Spring Concert with Verda as featured clarinet soloist. When his arrangement was rescored for band alone and published by Alfred Music Company, Brian said the piece “derives its title from a nickname given to Mrs. Verda Shine (Mama Kitty) by her colleagues and fellow band directors at Byrd Middle School, Duncanville, Texas. Along with her fondness for cats, Mrs. Shine earned her nickname for her commitment to the nurturing and support of program staff and students. The piece was written to celebrate her zeal and dedicated service as a Duncanville band director.”

Verda would like to thank the following directors who served eighteen or more years teaching in Duncanville and formed the foundation for the band program: Tom Shine – Head Director in Duncanville for thirty years before retirement in 2010; Brian Merrill – twenty-three years, Jeff King – twenty-six years; David Brandon – currently twenty-one years; and Mike Rowden – eighteen years. They had a major impact on her life. During her thirty years of teaching in Duncanville, Verda had many opportunities to observe or work with twenty-six other outstanding Duncanville directors and would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their commitment to the band program (listed in alphabetical order): Brian Beck, Brittney Cook, Tammy Fedynich, Gary Goodwin, Kevin Graham, Michelle Hanegan, Brent Luna, Pedro Maldonado, Jed Maus, Rena McCampbell Mayfield, Robin O’Neal, Michael Peveler, Mark Schroeder, Melinda Schweig, Steve Shadman, Jennifer Shults, Donna Strain, Mark Teal, Kenneth Thompson, George Townsend, Abby Villarreal, Evelio Villarreal, Allyson Whitsitt, Brittney Williams, Gary Williams and Rich Williams. Verda appreciates the private teaching staff that has been an integral part of the band program for over forty years. Verda thoroughly enjoyed her thirty-seven years of teaching band and following her students as they advanced to the high school bands.

After their retirement in 2010, Tom and Verda were both recognized by the Duncanville ISD with the naming of the district performance hall in their honor. For a time after retirement, Verda continued working as a private instructor for the Duncanville schools. She also experienced great happiness when she moved her mother from San Angelo closer to her home and cared for her until she died in 2013.

After Lindsey’s birth in 1981, the Shines were blessed with their first son, Jonathan, who arrived in January, 1984. Following his big brother Jon, in September, 1985, Nicholas completed the family. Growing up, all three Shine children participated in soccer, scouts, and took piano from Nancy Merrill. Both sons became Eagle Scouts. All three of their children were in the Duncanville bands and were eventually first chairs in their respective sections in the Duncanville Wind Ensemble. Jon was a three time all-state trumpet and Nick twice made all-state on trombone. Lindsey attended UT Austin and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in and a Bachelors of Arts degree in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies with a minor in government in 2003. In 2007 she earned her Juris Doctor from Southern Methodist University Law School where she met and married Matthew Lawrence in 2010. They are both attorneys in Dallas. Jonathan earned a Bachelor of Science in Integrative Studies at North Texas University in 2013 and works for United Parcel Service. Nick earned a Bachelor of Music degree in trombone performance at SMU in 2008. At SMU he met his future wife, Amy Israeloff, who earned her Bachelor of Music degree in French horn performance. Both went on earn masters degrees in performance, Nick at Northwestern and Amy at Eastman. Nick later completed a third degree in computer science from The University of Texas at Dallas. He currently serves as a program developer for State Farm Insurance and Amy is a writer in the midst of publishing her first book.

Verda became active in the First Unitarian Church of Dallas Women’s Day Alliance group, serving on the board as Service Chair for four years. In 2016, Verda and her daughter Lindsey earned membership in the Greater Dallas Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. As a member of DAR, Verda and Lindsey participate in projects that support troops in Afghanistan and elsewhere overseas. Verda’s hobbies include listening to music, playing clarinet, scrapbooking, seasonal decorating in her home, researching genealogy records, and creating craft projects to preserve vintage family items.

Verda’s professional affiliations include Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Bandmasters Association, Alpha Chapter/Phi Beta Mu Honorary Bandmaster Fraternity, Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity and International Clarinet Association. She would like to thank the Texas Bandmasters Association and Phi Beta Mu for this Hall of Fame honor.

Finally, Verda would like to thank Tom and their children: Lindsey and her husband Matt, Jonathan, Nick and his wife Amy, and her brother Jim, for their love and support during her life’s musical journey.

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