Jed Corra — the new band director at Williamstown High School.
written by Kiteara K. Sinnett
I am thrilled to present to you Kiteara’s first article in Marietta and Beyond. She has developed advanced writing skills. Look forward to more. Enjoy! Christiane
When you enter the double oak doors with the faded letters spelling ‘BAND ROOM’ — you are venturing into a place filled with memories, from bad to good and everything in between. You walk in the footfalls of those generations that played here before — and in the humming of old fans, you can almost hear their horns blaring. The trophies lining the wall are emblems of time and the hard work put in by the Pride of Williamstown. The sacrifice of blood, sweat, tears… and spit — lots of it — was not just to hold that plastic in their hands to display for others to see. The efforts were inspired.
The relics of a fallen kingdom (band directors as mentors) shadow over me as the new settles across from me — with past trophies looming above. This courageous and ambitious man is Jed Corra — the new band director at Williamstown High School.
Jed Corra is originally from Parkersburg South, where he graduated in 2012. He then went on to West Virginia University, graduating with a bachelor’s in music in 2016. He was a member in the Pride of West Virginia, the Pep Band, and his fraternity — Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. He graduated in December, 2016.
When he entered college, he never expected to come back to his roots, and definitely not to little ol’ Williamstown. In fact, he came home after unexpected personal events, and decided to be a substitute teacher until he could find himself a stable job. After one and a half years, he found an elementary general music teaching position in Pleasants County. Jed loved his job and all of the kids he met there, and he envisioned a good future.
Right when he got back on his feet, he was called into the administrator’s office, and informed that his position had been cut. As a 25 year old with a bachelor’s degree, this hit him hard. What is he going to do? Is he going to have to go back to Sonic? Is he going to have to sell his car? He didn’t know what to do, except to keep plugging along.
While standing in the blaring heat on St.Mary’s field, Mr.Corra hears about a high school music director position opening up in Williamstown, much closer to home. This is three weeks before school began, after the marching band season was already marching along. Jed, after being at odds with himself, decided to apply, even if he believed the chances were low.
He was interviewed, and knew he didn’t get the job. He felt as if he was under qualified and that he was way too young.
The next day, he received the phone call while at St.Mary’s Band Camp… he got the job!
After a week full of paperwork, Jed came to Williamstown — to say he was frightened would be an understatement. He went from being an elementary school teacher, to a high school band director — thrown straight into the middle of our season. He didn’t know the theme, the drill, the kids, nothing. He just walked into a room, and within a few days, he was alone with 30 strange teenagers, and being told to do a job.
Now, while this scared him, he was also confident. Marching Band is something he knew. He’s done music all of his life, and this was something he could figure out. He had good mentors — Mr. Eric Staats, a former director of Williamstown High School, and the current band director at Parkersburg South High School, Jed’s teacher.
Jed tells me that after the initial shock of being thrown into a haphazard group of ravenous students, he started to figure out their abilities, what these kids are like, and most importantly, what he needs to do to help — to make them better. He organized his space, filled out more paperwork, and established his place at the top of the rickety totem pole. He appreciated and used resources available to him — books he’s saved over the years from college, and the seniors who were all at his side to help keep the band together.
He thought innovatively, taking a trudging group of teens, and filling them with a fire — a passion for music. In his words, “I’m enthusiastic about things, and that makes them enthusiastic to learn.” and “They need to be challenged because I know they are more than they have led themselves to believe!”
Jed Corra’s ultimate goal is to help this band grow, in both ability and in size. He wishes for little Williamstown’s Marching Band to reach 50 or more! He wants to give the students the one thing he urges them to pursue — opportunity. His advice to them is to pursue their passion and hobbies, even if that includes marching band in college. Being in The Pride gave him so many chances to do things he would have never experienced.
When I asked Mr. Corra what his greatest achievement has been so far, he laughed and said: “Getting a compliment from the head football coach, Terry Smith!” And for those of us familiar with those Friday Night Lights, we understand.
The community of Williamstown has felt and experienced the change this fresh director has brought. I myself, a current senior and the field commander in the Pride of Williamstown, have been reinvigorated! I have been inspired to pursue my music thanks to a new beginning gifted to me by my band director and teacher, Jed Corra.