This year, the Leesville arts department experienced major change. After losing the teachers for chorus, band and art, Leesville has gained three new fine arts teachers.
The band lost Dave Albert, former band teacher, but they gained Alyssa Montgomery.
She graduated from Appalachian State University with degrees in both music performance in piano and music education in instrumental K-12.
Montgomery’s prior education includes being an alumni of Leesville. She attended Leesville as a high schooler and was a part of the band program herself, graduating in 2008.
“I was very excited to get the opportunity to come back and teach where I loved going to school,” said Montgomery.
Montgomery aims to make sure that the band’s traditions that she partook in years ago remain intact. She wants to carry on the legacy of the man who taught her in high school and preceded her as band director — Dave Albert.
“[I want the band] to continue to grow and continue in the traditions that have been here for the twenty years it’s been around…We still have the tradition of counting off before class, the tradition of playing the National Anthem the way we do, and just about everything is pretty much the same,” said Montgomery.
After the retirement of beloved chorus teacher Diane Covington, Leesville welcomed a new chorus teacher — Tonya Dickens.
Dickens has a bachelors degree in piano performance and a masters degree in music education from Miami University in Ohio.
She moved to Raleigh in order to be closer to family when a job opened at Leesville.
“My family lives in Raleigh. I have a twin brother who moved here about five years ago, and my parents retired and moved here as well. I have been wanting to move here for a while. I understand the reputation of the program is just incredible, so I was honored to be offered the position,” said Dickens.
Even though Dickens has only been teaching at Leesville for a short time, Leesville students have already had a big impact on her.
“I like the students. [They] are very motivated, [and] they love singing. If we are not singing right away a lot of them are chomping at the bit to sing. They have been very helpful,” said Dickens
Mr. Espinal, one of Leesville’s art teachers last year, has been replaced by Laura Young. Young will teach art along with Lin Stevens.
Young started teaching at Leesville because her and her husband had to relocate to Raleigh because of his job.
“I needed to move here and luckily leesville had an open position,” said Young.
She attended East Carolina University and graduated with a bachelor and masters degree in fine arts from ECU.
“[I enjoy] the student self expression and creativity. The students [are] able to broaden their thinking skills and their technical drawing skills. [I like] noticing when the students get it and they’re proud that they did,” said Young of why she teaches art.
Even though the school year is young, she has enjoyed her time here thus far.
“I love Leesville. The students are so polite, so creative [and] so talented. The staff is welcoming and friendly. The energy here is really good vibrant energy,” said Young.