604 20th Street SE, Cleveland, TN 37312 (423) 479-5121
“Young people can learn from my example that something can come from nothing. What I have become is the result of my hard efforts.” – Franz Joseph Haydn
The Grand Opening of Blythe-Bower Elementary was celebrated on Sunday, August 6, 2000. As the visitors toured the campus, it seemed that the sounds of music were everywhere – and music was everywhere! From the front lobby with Ms. Ruth James playing the piano as the world-class clarinetist played; to the courtyard where Victor Hill played his alto saxophone; on the Little Theatre stage were Celia Shaneyfelt’s Suzuki violin students.
Would it be possible for Blythe-Bower Elementary students to receive music lessons beyond the General Music classroom in order to play Band or String instruments? And so the conversations began with Principal Ron Hill, Dr. Mark Bailey and other community music leaders – addressing issues such as, finances; teachers; feeder programs; affordable or (dare we dream) free music instruction; rental vs building inventory; and once again finances!
After five years of intense conversations the dream of an excellent extra-curricular instrumental program became a reality and finally in February of the 2005-2006 school year, the Blythe-Bower 4th and 5th Grade Band launched with 20 students, 10 Lee University Symphonic Band students under the outstanding leadership of Pam Klena, who served as mentor-teachers, and a budget of $1200!
During the 2007-2008 school year, the students were challenged to create a name for themselves and they did – literally – after a school-wide vote the name Rockin’ Bobcats was chosen for the ensemble! The group since its beginning is comprised of the following instrumentation: alto saxophone; clarinet; flute; percussion; trombone; trumpet. Today there are 50 members who have garnered their places by invitation only. Membership requires good citizenship at home, at school, and in the community; semester rental fees paid for by parents, guardians, or sponsors. The Rockin’ Bobcats meet on Tuesday and Friday mornings 8:00 – 8:30 for free (yes dreams do come true) music lessons. As they practice, sounds of music can be heard in the Little Theatre -- clarinets, trumpets, and saxophones; the Library – flutes and trombones; the Music Room – percussion.
The ensemble performs for the Blythe-Bower families, student body, and staff twice a year – every year in Christmas and Spring Concerts. An off-campus performance opportunity highlight was the Breakfast with Santa event at the Bradley Square Mall!
It is a pleasure to see the children who were privileged to play in the Rockin’ Bobcats go on to play in their Middle and High School Bands and their mentor-teachers go on to instruct Beginning, Intermediate, and even Honor Concert Bands throughout this nation.
Gloria Scott-Richmond was born and raised in England. She is the youngest of 8 children. She is married to Reverend Tyrone Richmond, and they have one twelve year old daughter, April. Gloria began her education at the City University of New York where she earned her Associate of Arts-Performing Arts. She added her Bachelor of Music Education in 1988 at Lee College. Gloria began Master of Music Education coursework at UTC and earned her Master of Music at Lee University in 2007. She has been employed with Cleveland City Schools since 1989. Gloria’s love of music is also seen in her role as the Lee University Evangelistic Singers Director. She has also held positions as Minister of Music in local and district establishments. Gloria is very involved in our community and in leadership positions professionally. From 2006 – present, Gloria developed and supervises Blythe-Bower Rockin’ Bobcats. This is a before-school Beginning Band Program. Also, from 2009-present, Gloria developed and supervises the Blythe-Bower String Ensemble. Both of these programs are in partnership with Lee University, Music Instruction Studio, Veritas Instrument Rental, school administrators, parents, and students. Gloria has received many honors throughout her career including State finalist level teacher of the year, Huduma Service Award at Lee University, Outstanding Educator Award (Kappa Delta Pi-Lee University College of Education). Her most recent Honor was being named Distinguished Alumnus of the Year at Lee University, School of Music. On a personal note, Gloria is an avid Monopoly fan and has an extensive collection of Monopoly Games. She even has a Monopoly Game all the way from China.
Alisha Saeed is a fifth grade student at Blythe-Bower. She began attending Blythe-Bower in the first grade. Alisha has been in both the Rockin’ Bobcats Band and in the String Ensemble for the past two years. Alisha began playing the Cello but has switched to the violin. She also plays the clarinet. Alisha likes being in both musical groups because as she simply stated, “It is fun.” She also feels that this is the optimum time for her to learn music and how to play an instrument because she has the time to practice during her free time. She wants to continue to learn music so she will able to teach others music when she gets older. She plans to take band at CMS and CHS and get involved in other clubs or organizations that emphasize music.