The Music for All Blog
The Music for All Blog

Congratulations to Dr. Barry Shepherd, Superintendent of Cabarrus County Schools in North Carolina who is the 2013 recipient of the George N. Parks Leadership in Music Education award. Dr. Shepherd received the award during the opening finals ceremonies at the 2013 Grand National Championships, presented by Yamaha on November 16.

Developed by NAfME, the National Association for Music Education and Music for All, the award is named for George N. Parks (1953–2010), director of the University of Massachusetts Minuteman Marching Band at the University of Massachusetts Amherst from 1977 until his death, and honors an exemplary music educator who embodies the characteristics and leadership that Mr. Parks personified.

Learn more about the George N. Parks Leadership in Education Award

About Dr. Barry Shepherd

Since joining Cabarrus County Schools in February 2008, Dr. Barry Shepherd has led the school system through some of its most challenging and exciting times.

During his tenure, the school system has seen unprecedented reductions in funding. Yet, Cabarrus County Schools has continued to thrive thanks to Shepherd, who has successfully advocated for placing value on “people rather than things.”

Despite the challenging economy, student enrollment for Cabarrus County Schools has continued to grow – resulting in the need for more schools. And Shepherd has the led the school system through the construction of five new school buildings, as well as numerous academic and educational programs including magnet schools at Coltrane-Webb Elementary and J.N. Fries Middle, Central Cabarrus and Concord High Schools, the Cabarrus-Kannapolis Early College High School, Language Immersion at Furr Elementary School, and the Mary Frances Wall Center, a preschool for children with special needs.

Under his direction, Cabarrus County Schools’ students are making strides on end-of-year assessments, the graduation rate has increased and the school system has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant funding.

Dr. Shepherd also is leading the school system in its focus on global education. Through a partnership with the Center for International Understanding at the University of North Carolina, Cabarrus County Schools is among several school districts across the state participating in Confucius Classrooms. Through this program, Cabarrus County Schools’ teachers and administrators have visited schools in China to learn about Chinese education and as part of a reciprocal agreement.

Prior to joining Cabarrus County Schools, Dr. Shepherd served as superintendent of Elkin City Schools and as assistant superintendent in Mooresville Graded School District.

Dr. Shepherd is a native of Wilkes County, N.C., and has held administrative positions in Iredell-Statesville Schools, Lexington City Schools and Thomasville City Schools.

He is a graduate of Appalachian State University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in music education and a Master of Arts degree in educational leadership. He received his Doctor of Education degree in education from Columbia University in New York.

Dr. Shepherd is married to Laura Shepherd. They have two daughters: Fran and Parker, who attend Cabarrus County Schools.

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The George N. Parks Drum Major Academy students were hard at work today. I decided to spend part of the afternoon observing what they were up to so I headed over to Burris School.

DMA is for any band member who wishes to improve and develop his or her leadership, communication, conducting and marching skills and become a stronger asset to his or her band program. Students learn marching fundamentals, command basics, teaching techniques, conducting patterns, how to command the block, and baton and mace technique.

I started outside Burris School and watched instructor Frederick Omega Pye work on marching fundamentals with a group of students. They were working on stationary drill movements when I arrived, but rather than just emphasizing the movements themselves, Pye stressed leadership skills as well.

"You have to look like you're leading so people will follow you," Pye said. He encouraged the students as he instructed and corrected them.

Pye is a senior staff member, celebrating his 28th season with the George N. Parks Drum Major Academy. In his biography, he says "it is with a heavy heart that I continue on with George's mission - to develop the finest student Drum Majors across the country."

A second group of Drum Major Academy students walked up the path to head into the Burris School for an indoor session. I followed to watch Chris Cansler's session with the students. Cansler is the Director of Bands and Fine Arts Department Chair at Guyer High School in Denton, Texas.

In this session, students had the opportunity to improve their conducting by observing video of themselves. Students were given tips on how to improve their form and style during this evaluation.

I heard Cansler say "Starred Thought, 90% of your conducting problems can be corrected by beginning with and maintaining the appropriate starting position." Sadly, we lost George Parks unexpectedly within the past year. His students, staff and colleagues know that his "Starred Thoughts" were, and still are, important parts of his teachings – too important to be lost with his passing. It was nice to hear his staff carrying on this tradition.

As I watched students soaking up the instruction and thoughts on how to improve, it was overwhelmingly clear to me that even in George's absence the Drum Major Academy will continue to thrive due to the heart and dedication he inspired in his staff.


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Dr. Tim will join the George N. Parks Drum Major Academy at the Music for All Summer Symposium in Indiana in 2011! Join us June 20-25 at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Kick it all off with the Leadership Weekend Experience June 18-20.

Graduates of the Drum Major Academy have gone on to become successful drum majors at the nation's top University Bands and Drum Corps. Take a look at

The DMA at the Summer Symposium gives you the complete MFA camp experience, however, if you cannot attend the MFA camp, you can still join Tim at the DMAs at UMASS and in Texas.

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Watch live video of A Celebration of the Life and Legacy of George N. Parks on Saturday, October 16, beginning at approximately 11:30 a.m. The video will remain on this site after the event.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst celebrates the life and legacy of Professor George N. Parks, who led the Minuteman Marching Band to national prominence during his 33-year tenure. Professor Parks was in the BOA Hall of Fame, led his Drum Major Academy of the Music for All Summer Symposium and directed the BOA Honor Band in the 2009 and 2005 Tournament of Roses Parade.

Professor Parks died September 16 after suffering a heart attack following a performance with the band at an Ohio high school.

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