Broughton band director puts down baton after 34 years
Posted February 1, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — Something was missing Wednesday at Broughton High School in Raleigh. After three decades, beloved educator Jeffrey Richardson has turned in his baton.
Richardson, 56, retired Tuesday after a 34-year career as band director.
He was hired in 1978, straight out of college at the University of Tennessee, and he's been at Broughton ever since.
"This is the only job I have ever had," he said. "It's just been a great place to have taught."
Under his direction, Broughton's bands have performed twice at the Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., twice at the St. Patrick's Day parade in New York City and at the presidential inauguration of George H.W. Bush in 1989. In 2001, the band even traveled to the World Music Contest in Europe.
It was there that Richardson, who goes by the nickname J.R., had one of the most lasting memories of his career.
"I actually got arrested by the Swiss police for playing the national anthem in Geneva, Switzerland, because we were disturbing the peace," he said, laughing. "I was put in the back of a police car and handcuffed."
A call to the American Embassy got everything straightened out, and Richardson went back to business – leading the award-winning band to a gold medal finish on the world stage.
But it's not the medals and awards he says he'll miss the most. It's events like the Raleigh Christmas Parade, where the band performs year after year.
"I've watched families grow up on the parade route. They're in the same place every single year," he said. "I had a student once who actually got engaged on the parade route and four years ago, he brought his child."
More than the parades, though, Richardson will miss his students, who have a way of putting everything into perspective.
"I've learned from them that a smile will cure almost anything, that, you know, you might be having a bad day, and some student will make some quirky little comment, and it will make you giggle," he said. "They've kept me young."