BY DR. CARL MAULTSBY, GUEST WRITER TO THE TIMES
ORLANDO – In a historic appointment, Jones High School (JHS) Principal, Orlando Norwood, names Naomi J. Nelson as the school’s first female band director. Ms. Nelson, a graduate of Florida A&M University (FAMU) and a former member of both the FAMU Marching 100 as well as the Jones High School Marching Tiger’s, rejoins the JHS faculty after having first served as JHS Orchestra Director & Associate Band Director (2019-2020). She has worked for Orange County Public Schools since 2009. For ten years, Ms. Nelson was Band and Orchestra Director at Lockhart Middle School (2009-2019). She also worked at Apopka Memorial Middle School as Orchestra Director and Associate Band Director for Woodwind Instruction (2020-2022) and most recently at Wolf Lake Elementary School.
Principal Norwood says of Ms. Nelson’s appointment, “Jones High School is always making history. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, and we will continue making history. Forty-three years after Ms. Clara Walters became the first woman to assume the role of principal of Jones High School, we have our first female band director. History was made on June 12, 2023 when Naomi Joy Nelson was named the first female band director in the nearly 75-year history of the illustrious Marching Tigers! This is a message to every Tiger who has ever had a dream: work hard because dreams do come true.”
With only two weeks in her position, Ms. Nelson initiated a summer band program for incoming ninth through twelfth grade students:
- Monday-Thursday, June 26-29, 2023, 8AM-5PM, Percussion Instruction, Assisted by the FAMU Marching 100 first female percussion leader, Cicely Youngblood
- Monday-Thursday, July 10-13, 2023, 8AM-5PM, Summer Music Enrichment, Ensemble Study and Private Instruction for Wind & String Instruments, Coordinated by Orlando Chamber Ensemble
Also in the works is a two week Marching Band Camp at a time to be announced.
As the new band director, Ms. Nelson who also works as a performing artist under the name of “Naomi Joy” adds, “I am truly excited to return to my alma mater because of the many enriching experiences that I gained at this school.” As a JHS student, she was Head Drum Major of the Marching Tigers, lead alto saxophonist in the JHS Jazz Band as well as JHS Student Government Association President. Ms. Nelson efforts were rewarded with a Florida A&M University Presidential Academic Scholarship. Hence, she wants “to encourage academic and music success for all of my band and music students and inspire them to pursue their talents with faith and perseverance knowing that God will honor their efforts with rewards and success.”
All Summer Band activities are held at Jones High School Band Room, 801 S. Rio Grande Avenue, Orlando, FL, Telephone, 407-835-2300.