On March 14, the Mason City Schools Board of Education unanimously approved Superintendent Gail Kist-Kline's recommendation to hire Greg Benson as the new Mason High School band director. There was no shortage of people interested in leading one of the nation's premiere high school bands. The position generated a flurry of nearly 100 applicants from far and wide. Mason City School District officials knew that it was a critical hire, and conducted a national search and multi-round interview process.
"We have a premiere program built by extremely hard-working and talented students, skilled and dedicated directors, and deeply invested families. When we learned back in May that we needed an interim director, we were blessed to have a talented group of staff who took on various roles for a year in order to ensure that our students’ band experiences remained positive," said Dr. Kist-Kline. "We are now very excited that Mr. Benson will be leading our band. His commitment to our band's tradition of excellence and vision for its future will be welcomed by our Mason Band Family and community."
Benson is currently the Assistant Director of Bands at Grove City High School who, like Mason High School, recently marched in the Tournament of Roses Parade. (Grove City marched in 2017 and MHS marched in 2016.) He is also the Associate Conductor of the Grove City Community Winds which is led by world-renowned composer and educator James Swearingen. Benson was previously the Director of Bands for Gallia Academy High School and Middle School in Gallipolis, Ohio, and was also a Conductor of the Phantom Regiment Drum & Bugle Corps - one of the world's most elite musical performing organizations.
"It is the greatest joy of my life to wake up each morning and have the blessing of doing what I love. I truly feel I am called to share my passion for music with my students, and I strive to share this with them in each and every moment of my teaching. It is my goal that students will fall passionately and undeniably in love with music and want to share this with the world around them," Benson shared about his passion for music education. “It is also my goal that students not only walk out of my classroom with a deep appreciation and love for music, but have developed character and citizenship skills that will stick with them for the rest of their lives, and allow them to be successful in whatever endeavors they pursue. I often say I teach students first, and music is my vehicle.”
Benson looks forward to building great relationships with his colleagues, and getting to know the students, parents, boosters and Mason community. “I am very excited to get to know and work with the outstanding band staff here in Mason, and to get to know each and every student and family involved in the Mason Bands. Mason is a wonderful community, and I am grateful for the warm welcome I have already received,” Benson said.
"There are many things that have made the Mason Band Program the nationally recognized music program that it is today. An outstanding team of educators, talented and dedicated students, and supportive parents are the hallmarks of the Mason Band. I intend to continue the traditions of excellence with which the Mason Bands have become synonymous, and seek out new and exciting opportunities for our students so that they will continue to have on of the best band experiences in the nation!"
By any definition, this year has been a banner one for the Mason Bands. The MHS Marching Band, under the direction of Susan Bass, continued its upward trend over the last six years by placing third out of 100 bands at the 2016 BOA Grand Nationals. The MHS Wind Symphony, under the direction of Micah Ewing, was one of only four high school bands who performed at the 2016 70th Annual Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic held in Chicago.
MHS Principal Dave Hyatt is excited to welcome Benson to Mason High School. “Greg is a music educator with strong credentials who has shown throughout his career that he believes in collaboration and embracing a team approach. I look forward to seeing him build on our band's tradition of excellence, and am excited about ways that we can continue to grow our students' confidence and leadership."
Benson hails from Worthington, Ohio, and is a proud graduate of Thomas Worthington High School and Otterbein University. He and his wife, Melinda, have been married for three years and enjoy their time with family, friends, and their dog Mandy when not participating in band activities. Benson loves spending time on the water and is a boating enthusiast and die-hard Ohio State football and Columbus Blue Jackets fan. His wife Melinda is a pianist, hails from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area in Texas, and works at the university level.