Retiring Fallon Music Instructor Lee Carpenter Celebrates a Lifetime of Devotion to Dublin Music Education
“They teach you there’s a boundary line to music. But, man, there’s no boundary line to art.” Charlie Parker.
DUBLIN, CA–We last checked in with Dublin Unified School District Music Instructor Lee Carpenter almost three years ago. At the time, he had shifted from a successful and lengthy stint at Dublin High School and was adjusting to a new role as music instructor and band director at Fallon Middle School. At the time, he told us that this might be a nice “adjustment” into a somewhat smaller role. Little did he know, at the time, that the FMS music program would explode and that it would become as robust as ever. However, after 38 years in the profession, Mr. Carpenter has formally announced that he will commence his retirement from DUSD after June 30th. It is both an exhilarating moment and one that also causes deep reflection.
It has been a career that includes both in-class instruction and the responsibility of leading musicians through various exhibitions and competitions. In addition, Lee has been an active Adjudicator for such organizations as the Western Band Association (WBA), the Northern California Band Association (NCBA) and Winter Guard International. Much like a baseball umpire, he has been required to objectively judge various competitions across the area without bias. But beyond his daily teaching responsibilities, Lee has also embraced the job of previously representing his fellow colleagues in the role of President of the Dublin Teachers Association (DTA). Along with the title, it placed another burden upon his shoulders – to ensure that his teaching brethren were receiving a fair shake. In this and many other ways, it exemplifies how Mr. Carpenter and his career was a star among stars. And for this reason, we wanted to receive this thoughts on a career well earned.
OneDublin.org: When you assumed leadership at Fallon Middle School, the entire band program was constituted by 37 students. Please provide us with a 2017 update as to what the entire band program looks like today.
Lee Carpenter: “Fallon Music Department in 2017 consists of a Symphonic Band of 104, an Advanced Band of 44, a Beginning Band of 38, a Jazz Band of 26, a Winter Drum Line of 15, a competitive Color Guard of 10, an Advanced String Orchestra of 48 and a beginning String Orchestra of 28. In the 12 years since the school has opened, the music department has received over 100 awards and honors including circuit championships, gold medal awards and state honor band and orchestra participates.”
OneDublin.org: You have stated on a previous occasion that the Center for the Performing Arts & Education (CPAE) might not become a reality. However, today it stands as a state of the art facility that serves the entire district. Please try to articulate what this structure represents to all students in DUSD.
Carpenter: “Over the years in the district, I’ve had many meetings with architects for planning both theaters and fine arts facilities. I spent several staff development days with Art teacher Mark Pignolet designing facilities to fit the needs of Dublin High as well as the district. Nothing ever became of these meetings. There was even at one point a plan to have a 1200 seat theater shared with the city at Fallon Middle School that never materialized. When the bond passed to remodel Dublin High I saw the theater plans scale down several times. So yes, I was doubtful that the CPAE would ever be built.
“Now that it’s a reality, I’m thrilled that we have a state of the art facility for concerts, plays, musicals as well as lectures and presentations. It is one of the best facilities in the area. I’m extremely proud of our Board of Trustees that made some tough financial decisions to ensure it was a modern, properly equipped performing centers center. I hope we can continue to balance the use of the theater between school groups and the community, so everyone gets a chance to use it.”
OneDublin.org: Among your many roles, you also served as the President of the Dublin Teachers Association (DTA). Now, as a member, how would you assess the relationship between DUSD and the Association? Further, what efforts do you feel that your colleagues should continue to promote?
Carpenter: “During my time as President of DTA, I built relationships through communication. I met with school board members, I met with the Superintendent, I met with District Office personnel and I met with each Principal on a monthly basis. I sent out newsletters and emails to the DTA membership. All of which the current DTA Executive Board is doing. The advantage I had was stability in the administrative positions. I don’t mean to say that the administrators are unstable, instead, there has been a lot of changes in administrative personnel. As an example, I only had one Assistant Supt of H.R., the current DTA leadership team has had four.
“It took time to develop trust and the relationships with all the stalk holders. It is tough to start over and building new relationships. I’m confident DTA will continue to work towards building relationships through communication.”
OneDublin.org: You have served as both a music instructor and also as an educator. During your tenure in DUSD, the articulation of curriculum has radically evolved. Please explain your belief in how the landscape of education in Dublin must truly embrace STEAM.
Carpenter: “Most music instructors are of the opinion that education in general is finally catching up to music. Both with STEAM and Common Core the belief is that everything can and should be cross curricular. I’ve been doing that for almost 40 years. When I introduce a new piece of music, I teach geography. I talk about where it’s from. I’ve pulled up Google earth countless times to show the students where the country is. I teach world languages as I define the different words and phrases within the music. I teach history as I explain the time period and circumstances in which the piece was written. I teach math as we count out the rhythms. I’m glad that music has finally earned a place in “Core Subjects”. I think that DUSD is ahead of most as from as incorporating Music into their STEAM programs. But there is still more to be done such as developing Visual and Performing Arts Academies.”
OneDublin.org: While your daily in-class instruction will someday cease, you have no intention of cleanly stepping away from the music scene. This would include your devotion to NCBA and to other organizations. Describe how you will continue to be associated with this environment.
Carpenter: “I will continue to adjudicate different pageantry events and competitions. I currently work for five different circuits and associations. I don’t see that changing much.
“I will also continue to perform with the Pleasanton Community Concert Band. In fact, I’ve been asked to increase my role with the group.
“I have also been asked to join the Livermore/Amador Symphony. I’ve sat in with them before but I’m looking forward to increasing my involvement with them as well.”
OneDublin.org: As you reflect upon a lengthy and fulfilling career that has influenced thousands of students, anything else that you would like to add?
Carpenter: “I know I’m going to miss the kids, they have kept me young for many years. It’s been an amazing experience with some wonderful times. I hope that I not only taught them music, but taught them a work ethic to be successful.”
We could not think of a better illustration of a teacher/mentor that has taught numerous students the art of music – but also the art of life. OneDublin.org would like to commend the career and contributions of Lee Carpenter. He has clearly added to the fabric of this community.