After career as band instructor, Winchester mom gives back to GRC band boosters

Published 9:38 am Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Jean Edwards has spent her life around bands and music.

Her brother was a band director.

She was a public school band director for 27 years, before retiring a couple years ago. 

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Her youngest child, J.C., is now a sophomore at George Rogers Clark High School, and is in the band.

Aside from substitute teaching and working with other bands, Edwards is part of the GRC band boosters, an organization that supports the band and the students however it can.

Edwards’ career and experience gives her a different perspective on the boosters.

“When I was (band director) in Estill County, I did everything,” she said, “because we didn’t have the money.”

Edwards said she mended the color guard’s flags and wrote music, among other things to help the band keep going.

“I just want to help (GRC band director Michael Payne) out so he doesn’t have to do that, so he doesn’t have to sweat the small stuff,” she said. 

There is a lot of small stuff, as well as big things, that the boosters handle. 

“The band boosters are there to get the kids anything they need,” she said. “They fund-raise to hire staff. They purchase music. They support with instruments and repair instruments. … It costs a couple hundred thousand dollars to run a band this size every year. 

“They feed the kids. They help build props. It’s incredible the number of hours everyone puts in so the band can succeed.”

Edwards joined the boosters about three years ago when her family moved to Clark County.

She has had to take a couple steps back this year following her diagnosis with breast cancer in December.

“I’ve had to say, ‘No, I can’t haul that prop’ or ‘I’ll see you in two weeks when I’m cleared from surgery,’” she said.

It has slowed Edwards, but it hasn’t stopped her or her husband, Joe. With all four of their children, they have tried to attend every ball game, every band concert, everything they could. 

This past weekend, they traveled to Chattanooga, Tennessee, on Friday to watch one daughter’s college softball games. They returned Saturday, stopping to watch the South Laurel High School band compete in a contest before traveling to Morehead, where the GRC band was participating in another contest. 

Joe Edwards has been part of it as well, building props this year and coaching sports teams in past years, she said. The family SUV traveled more than 500,000 miles from attending all the events.

“I’m not going to miss anything my kids do,” she said. “There’s been times we’ve had to divide and conquer.”

Seeing those moments, she said, is the best part of working with the band, or any group.

“I think it’s watching all of the kids succeed,” she said. “Seeing the joy and emotion on the kids’ faces when they know they’ve done a great job. That’s worth everything.”

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email or call 859-759-0051.

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