BY MELANIE BUCK –
Mena High School Band Director, Charles Morgan, has been accepted into Phi Beta Mu, a national fraternity for high school band directors. It’s an honor that includes only a select group of the most exceptional directors in the country. Mr. Morgan was nominated by Fort Smith High School band directors for his success.
Under Morgan’s twelve years of leadership, the Mena High School Band has enjoyed five years of Sweepstakes wins that include honors in three categories: Concert Band, Jazz Band, and Site Reading. MHS Band has also produced hundreds of All-Region students, as well as nearly two-dozen All-State students, and two dozen more that have gone to college on band or music scholarships.
Morgan is a graduate of Mena High School who was taught and encouraged by the legendary Paul Gray. “He’s the one who inspired me,” said Morgan. “I love my job and what I do, but I never would’ve considered it until he mentioned it.”
After graduating from Arkansas Tech University with a Bachelors Degree in Music Education, Morgan began his career in Texas before coming to Mena, where he has been for the last twelve years. “I absolutely love it here,” he said. “You want to come home and make a difference and I feel we’re doing a pretty good job. The kids are going to college, playing in college, and doing very successful things.”
Morgan said much of his success is due to having a great assistant director, Josh Bradford. “He is fabulous and makes my job easy.” That also works vice-versa, as Morgan is Bradford’s assistant director for the Mena Middle School Band.
To be entered into Phi Beta Mu, you have to be nominated and sponsored. Morgan is sponsored by the Fort Smith band directors. One of them called him up with the premise of borrowing music from Morgan. However, upon arrival, he found out he had been nominated and accepted into the prestigious organization. “It was a very big surprise.” He will officially be inducted this summer at the Arkansas Band Masters Banquet.
“The band director from Arkansas Tech has been nominated, as well as the band director from the University of Arkansas – Monticello. I fell pretty happy to be included in that category,” Morgan beamed. “I feel like it’s a great honor, but the biggest honor is getting to work with the students that I work with.”