Out at West Lauderdale High School, Band Director David McKinney has been teaching music for seventeen years.
“I’ve never wanted to do anything else—just teach kids and teach music. The kids and the relationships with faculty and administration—this is a fantastic place to teach. I have been very blessed to have three really good sets of administrators while I’ve been here,” said McKinney.
Before coming to West Lauderdale, he taught in Brookhaven, Mississippi for ten years and then at Magnolia Middle School in Meridian for one year. With seniors like Macayla Collier playing their final notes and moving on, McKinney is also leaving.
“It was very sad. I actually cried. It’s just very sad. He might leave before the semester is up, which is awful because I don’t want to see him leave before I leave,” said Collier.
He is now retiring after twenty-eight years of teaching music here in Mississippi and heading to Texas with his family, where he will be teaching 9th to 12th grade band students at a high school in Beaumont. After losing his wife and the mother of their two sons nearly eight years ago, he now encourages his students to always push forward.
“He has gone through many hard times in his life, and he has come out stronger than ever through all of it. So, he has just shown me that no matter what you go through, you can get through it, and, most of the time, you can come out stronger than you were before,” said Collier.
“I don’t want to teach just music. I want these people to grow up and be good, contributing members of society and be able to have jobs and families and be good husbands and good wives. I hope that some of what I’ve done translates to that, said McKinney.
He has since re-married and now has two step-children, as well.