By GREG COLLINS
Pine Tree High School
LONGVIEW - Mark Melton, sixth year band director at Pine Tree High School, has been awarded the UIL Sponsor Excellence Award, according to Cindy Gabehart, principal at the local high school.
Melton is not only the band director but also the Fine Arts Administrator at the high school, officials said, and is one of only 15 people in the state to garner this honor for 2016. “I am humbled, overwhelmed and very grateful for this honor,” Melton said.
The purpose of this award is for the University Interscholastic League to highlight the contributions of sponsors of UIL scholastic competition. This award is created to identify and recognize outstanding sponsors who assist students in developing and refining their extracurricular talents to the highest degree possible within the educational system while helping them to keep their personal worth separate from their success or failure in competition.
For winning the award, Melton received a $1,000 cash award and an appropriate symbolic memento. He also received a personalized certificate from the University Interscholastic League.
Melton has been a band director for 35 years, mostly in East Texas and mostly at Union Grove and Pine Tree.
He has been nominated for this award four times, and this is the first time he has been selected for the honor.
Each fall, the superintendent and principal receive a link to nominate one person from the district for the award.
This year, both Dr. TJ Farler and Gabehart nominated Melton. Nominations are made in one of three categories: academic contest coaches (including One-Act Play), athletic coaches and music directors.
“When I nominated Mr. Melton for this award, I looked for someone who challenges our students to the highest levels of excellence. Mr. Melton leads by example and works with beginning band students as well as our most accomplished band students. Our students and our faculty have a high respect for Mr. Melton and enjoy working with him. He always goes the extra mile to help all programs - choir, art, dance, athletics, cheerleading - as well as our academic programs. It is an honor to work with leader such as Mr. Melton,” Dr. Farler, superintendent of Pine Tree ISD, said.
It is my extreme privilege to work with a man like Mark Melton,” Gabehart said. “Mr. Melton leads by example and exemplifies the true team spirit of the UIL program. Mr. Melton reaches students by instilling a passion for music. Mr Melton spends countless hours training students to perfect their skills as well as building students of character.” She went on to comment “I often walk into the band hall or onto the field just to hear the amazing music that is generated from our students. Mr. Melton has created a legacy at Pine Tree High School and we are so proud that he has been awarded the UIL Sponsor Excellence Award.”
Melton was notified earlier this year that he would be a recipient.
“I was required to fill out some paperwork and give them some detailed information,” he said. “It still has not sunk in that I have won this award, but I guess it will over the long haul.”
The criteria for the award includes accomplishments of UIL participants as a result of sponsor leadership (must have been a sponsor for at least five years), indication that the sponsor made maximum use of existing resources and student aptitude, a statement regarding the relative importance of competitive activities in the sponsor’s personal educational philosophy, principal recommendation of the sponsor as an effective teacher in non-UIL classroom activities and the desire to recognize sponsors from each of the three categories.
The Pine Tree Independent School District Board of Trustees honored Melton at the February 13 board meeting with an Above and Beyond recognition for him receiving this award. A formal presentation will occur later in the year during a band event.
Those who work with Melton in the PTISD Band Department said it is an honor that is well deserved. Co-workers say Melton, originally from Kilgore and a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, is all about the students, making them better musicians and better people. They also said he, and the entire band staff, work well together to promote band, discipline, drive and the ability to function in high-level competition as well as to accept responsibility for the role they have been given to play. Co-workers also said he is a role model for students because of the way he lives his life, conducts himself at school and in the community and, finally, for the way he treats his staff, his teaching colleagues and his students
“There are plenty of people more deserving than me,” he said. “It is my students and staff that really deserve this, but I am grateful to be recognized by UIL and to have my bosses think enough of the job I am doing to nominate me for this honor.”
Melton said, it is true, that he comes to work every day with the betterment of his students on his mind. He said that when he first came to Pine Tree that he would demonstrate how to play music, but had to remind them that his UIL eligibility was used up many years ago.
“I tell the students that it is up to them to win awards and in doing so you make the whole program stronger,” he said with a smile. “It is great to see students succeed, to go on to college band careers and to maybe even end up in the band industry later on in life. That makes you feel like you have accomplished a goal.”
The award has been presented yearly since 2004. Others in 2016 to garner the honor besides Melton include Shawn Bruns of Flatonia High School, Todd Craft of D’Hanis High School, David DeVoto of Allen High School, Jamie Dornak of Moulton High School, Adrian Gallardo of Rankin High School, Beverly Hererra of Laredo High School, Tim Johnston of Huntsville High School, Kimberly Kass of Argyle High School, Lee Neel of Knippa High School, Cheryl Ryne of Friendswood High School, Hugh Sandifer of Abilene Wylie High School, Andy Sealy of Lewisville Hebron High School, Brenda Slatton of San Antonio Lee High School and Laura Smith of Canyon High School.
|Mark Melton, Director of Fine Arts|