Lisa ButtsYear of Graduation – 1998

Current Position – Director of Bands at Hanford West High School

Time in current position – 19 years. I helped open the school in 1998

Name some accomplishments or awards since graduation.

• 2004 California Music Educators Association Central Section Byron Hoyt Band Award
• 2005 California Music Educators Association Central Section Music Educator of the Year
• 2005 Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year for Kings County
• 2006 California Band Directors Association’s Distinguished Service Award
• 2008 Tulare/Kings Music Educators Association Hall of Fame Award 
• 2008 California Music Educators Association Central Section Jazz Educator of the Year
• 2008 California Music Educators Association Jazz Educator for the state
• 2011 Tulare/Kings Music Educators Association Outstanding Music Educator Award
• 2012 Inducted into the John Philip Sousa Legion of Honor
• 2014 Hanford Joint Union High School District Teacher of the Year 
• 2015 Kings County Teacher of the Year
• 2016 Grammy Quarterfinalist
• 2017 California Band Directors Lifetime Achievement Award

How did ABC help prepare you for these?

ABC helped me by giving me the tools that I needed to become a better music teacher. My listening skills improved by the projects that I had to complete as well as the exams that I took. My skills at evaluating performance were also improved, and I was given the tools that I needed by learning from the clinicians to be able to diagnose and correct poor playing and performance issues of my students.

What was your most memorable ABC experience?

Being able to talk with Alfred Reed at the after-concert party at Max’s house. He was standing there all by himself because everyone was in awe of him, so I went over and spoke with him. During our conversation, he told me that he was a trumpet player that was not making it as a player, so he began composing. It was a wonderful conversation that I will never forget. He was very kind to all of us that night. Also being able to play under the batons of Frederick Fennell and Colonel John Bourgeois was a highlight of my career.

Who are your biggest influences/mentors?

My influences were my high school and college band directors, Lee McCullough and Duane Weston. My mentors were teachers that helped me at my first job and throughout my career, Susan Burley and Jim Kusserow. My biggest influence was Max McKee and the American Band College. Without his vision and creation of this outstanding program of study, I would not be the teacher that I have become today.

What advice do you have for young directors?

Seek out teachers that you respect and learn from them and attend your state music education conferences. Then, attend the American Band College. The clinics, performances, and coursework to which you will be exposed will change your life. You will also meet hundreds of other teachers just like you that you will bond with and continue to rely upon throughout your career.