New Award-Winning Band Directors
The coming school year will be a time of exciting change in the Fine Arts and Performing Arts Department at District 219. In addition to bringing in a new Director of Fine Arts, Jason Brown, Niles West and Niles North will each welcome a new band director.
At its May 14 meeting, the D219 Board of Education appointed Cheryl Filipek as Band Director at Niles North and Justin Johnson as Band Director at Niles West. Both directors begin work on August 14. The board also appointed Anita Turner Baker as the Fine Arts Executive Secretary at Niles West.
Brown will succeed Mary Jo Papich, who served as Interim Fine Arts Director the last three years. Filipek will take North’s band program over from Elton Eisele and Johnson succeeds Bill Koch. Both directors are retiring after leading the band program at their respective schools for a remarkable 29 years.
Papich stated, “Our two-year search for top-quality band directors for D219 has given us incredible candidates who are talented, hard-working, experienced, vibrant, exciting and visionary! I am confident they will play a big part in the school and community at large at school and civic events. They know of our strong reputation in the arts and are committed to taking our students to the next level. They will have wonderful support, since they will be led by the capable Jason Brown as Fine Arts Director, and with Anita Turner Baker as assistant. D219 welcomes them with open arms as they shape the future of arts education in this fine district.”
Filipek has been Director of Bands at Lincoln Park High School in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) since 2005. She directs the 102-piece concert and marching band and the school’s top wind ensemble and also teaches Freshman General Music. She was instrumental in Lincoln Park High School earning the #2 Rank in Class AA Overall Music State Final School Results from the IHSA in 2010 and 2011, and her groups have earned 14 Superior Ratings from CPS and IHSA Festivals. Filipek’s Pep Band was chosen by audition tape as the #1 Pep Band of the Year in 2009 by the IHSA.
Filipek was Band Director at Lane Technical College Preparatory High School from 2000 to 2005 and taught Music Appreciation. From 2000 to 2010 she was an instrumentalist for the Air National Guard Band of the Midwest, performing as solo oboist in the Concert Band and Woodwind Quintet; she also served as Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of Public Affairs.
Filipek earned her bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Niles West will also be getting the services of an award-winning band director. He has been Head Band Director at Central High School in the Memphis City School District since 2008. During his time at Central High, Johnson reformatted all the musical ensembles and started several new ones. The school now has a competitive marching band, full jazz orchestra, several jazz combos, several chamber groups, a percussion ensemble and three concert ensembles of varying musical difficulty. The Central High Jazz Ensemble was named the 2009 and 2010 winner of the University of Memphis Jazz Festival and was selected to perform at the prestigious Essentially Ellington competition in Lafayette, Louisiana. He also teaches AP Music Theory.
Johnson has extensive drum and bugle corps experience, having served as visual technician for four years with the Memphis Sound Drum and Bugle Corps and also as visual technician for the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps in Canton, Ohio. He is a skilled musician who plays alto and baritone saxophone, mellophone and several other brass instruments.
Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in instrumental music education from the University of Memphis.
Anita Turner Baker will succeed longtime Fine Arts Executive Secretary Kathy Spreitzer, who is retiring after 30 years at Niles West. Turner Baker is currently the floor supervisor at Niles West’s Information Resource Center. She has more than 10 years experience in administrative support and office management and has worked for Evanston Township High School, New Life Shelter and the City of Evanston Health Department. Turner Baker earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Roosevelt University and is a musician (pianist) who looks forward to working with the West Fine Arts staff.
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