John Pruitt, Director of Bands
John Pruitt earned his B.M.E. at East Carolina University (NC) after marching baritone with Spirit of Atlanta in 1983. Upon graduation from ECU, he completed Aviation Officer Candidate School and received his commission into the US Navy, where he trained as a naval flight officer. Mr. Pruitt remains certified as a commercial pilot and flight instructor. In 1992 he began his career as a music educator at McColl Middle School (SC) and later served as band director at Cheraw HS (1996-2007), leading them to the SC AA marching band title in his final year. Mr. Pruitt was named Director of Bands at Fort Mill HS in 2007. He is an active trombonist, performing with the Carolinas Wind Orchestra, church orchestras, and other ensembles in the greater Charlotte area. He is the father of three (Tim, Sam, Aimee) and became a grandfather in 2013.
Ren Patel, Associate Director of Bands
Ren Patel learned his earliest lessons in arranging as Bob Cotter’s student in the Gaffney HS Band. He was the principal bassoonist in the Winthrop University Wind Symphony and played tuba in the pep band and tuba choir. He completed his student teaching at Fort Mill HS in 2011 while earning his B.M.E. at Winthrop. After serving as a band director in Cherokee and Greenville counties, he returned to Fort Mill HS in the summer of 2014. Mr. Patel is a composer, arranger, performer, and clinician. He is a member of NAFME, SCBDA, and the Society of Music Theory.
Jason Ford, Individual & Ensemble Visual
Mr. Ford joined the Fort Mill staff in 1988, after four years as a member of the FMHS Band, including serving as Drum Major his senior year. He earned his B.A. in English at Furman University, where he also studied saxophone with Dr. Clifford Leaman and performed with the jazz bands. Mr. Ford earned an M.A. in English from USC-Columbia and has taught English at Fort Mill High School since 1995. He currently teaches AP English, Film & Fiction, and serves as department chair. Mr. Ford often judges visual captions and drum majors for shows in SC, NC, VA, and TN. He is a long-time Carolina Crown volunteer and currently serves on the corps’ Advisory Board.
Kirk Godbey, Drill Designer & Banks Trail MS Band Director
Mr. Godbey finished his B.M.E at James Madison University in 1986 and joined the Fort Mill staff soon after. From 1987-1999 he was the marching band’s principal drill writer; he returned to that role and the marching band staff in 2008. He has served as a middle school band director at Fort Mill MS, Gold Hill MS, Springfield MS, and now teaches at Banks Trail MS. Mr. Godbey earned his Master’s in Music Education and a Master’s in Public School Leadership at Winthrop University. He is an active member of SCBDA, SCMEA, MENC, and the Carolina Crown Advisory Board. Mr. Godbey frequently judges marching and concert bands throughout the southeast.
Jennifer Hughes, Percussion Director
After four years as a member of the Fort Mill HS Band, Ms. Hughes started assisting with percussion instruction in 2001 and was named Percussion Director in 2007. She earned her B.M.E. at Winthrop University and teaches daily at Fort Mill HS, along with frequent visits to Gold Hill MS and Banks Trail MS. Ms. Hughes also directs Fort Mill’s winter percussion ensemble.
Brady Hartness, Front Ensemble Percussion
Brady started his marching band experience at Fort Mill HS and then moved to Nation Ford HS, graduating in 2010. He played timpani for the Madison Scouts, marimba for Teal Sound, and continues to perform as a section leader for Palmetto Percussion, WGI World Class Finalists and 2010 champions. He will join the Colts’ percussion staff in 2014 as a front ensemble instructor. Brady also composes and arranges music for Fort Mill’s indoor percussion ensemble, while working towards his music degree at Winthrop University.
Matthew McCurley, Color Guard Director
Mr. McCurley joined the Fort Mill staff in 2014. He is also a choreographer and instructor for the WGI Independent A Finalist Aria Winter Guard from Greensboro, NC. Matt has taught and choreographed for color guards in North and South Carolina, as well as Virginia. He is currently the drill designer for multiple groups in the Carolinas. Matt performed with Aria Winter Guard in 2006 and 2007 and Etude Winter Guard in 2008 and 2009. He received his music education degree from Winthrop University and currently teaches music at Palisades Park Elementary School in Charlotte, NC. He is a former president of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity and received the Collegiate Honor Award in 2008.