Saying goodbye

Former students host farewell party for Maryville Middle band director

Putting family first is more than just lip service for Bill Burke.

The former band director at Maryville Middle School moved to Sevierville Intermediate and Middle schools this fall to be closer to his family.

The father of three children, ages 6, 8 and 10-years-old, said, “Being on a different schedule, like spring breaks was tough. But more than that, it is so busy after school. I wasn’t able to be as involved with them and that concerned me a lot.”

He said his wife and children are deeply rooted in Sevier County, so when the position for a band director opened, Burke said he couldn’t resist the opportunity.

“This position came open in the middle of the year, so it was bad timing, but you have to take those opportunities when you can.”

Burke has taught for 24 years throughout the region and led the band program at MMS for nine years. “As far as jobs, very little would compare to Maryville as to what it has to offer. I mean that from every angle -- the teachers, administrators, the community, the school system and parents.”

He said his decision to move was not just based on location. “My children are getting to the age where they can be in band. I believe very much in what I do, and I want to strengthen the band program in Sevierville.”

Tom Delozier, band director at Maryville High School, said Burke has a reputation of doing just that. “He has had a huge impact on our music program in the time he was with us.”

Delozier said not only is Burke a talented musician and an effective teacher, but he was also “a pleasure to work with as an individual.” The two band directors worked closely together, and Burke frequently assisted the high school band at football games.

Delozier said, “The students just think the world of him. The kids and the system are really going to miss him.”

On Oct. 15, after the MHS football game, Burke’s former students in the high school band organized a farewell party in the school’s Commons area.”

Delozier said about 120 students and several parents came to honor the teacher.

Burke said he was touched by the efforts of the kids after a long day of school and a football game. “I was blown away,” he said.

Burke has been teaching at his new school for over a week and says he misses Maryville.

“People don’t always hear about how good that program is and how good those kids play. It’s not by chance. The community should be commended for funding and supporting the program and for providing such great kids to teach.”

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