Following the retirement of longtime Dekaney High School band director Trent Cooper at the end of the 2020-21 school year, Spring ISD named Chase Giddings – most recently Dekaney’s associate director of bands – to succeed Cooper in heading the school’s instrumental music department.
Giddings’ move into the top band position at Dekaney marks a historic milestone for the district, as Giddings becomes Spring ISD’s first African American high school band leader.
“This is an exciting moment for Dekaney High School and for the district as a whole,” said Spring ISD Director of Performing and Visual Arts Dr. Joe Clark. “Not only are we promoting a dedicated and incredibly deserving member of our performing arts faculty, we’re also celebrating the diversity of talents and backgrounds that makes Spring ISD such a great place to study music and the arts. Our district thrives on diversity, and this promotion reflects that fact.”
While he was still in college studying music education at Sam Houston State University, Giddings did his student teaching at Dekaney and at Bammel Middle School – where Clark was the campus band director at the time – and formally joined the district as director of bands at Claughton Middle School in 2013. Giddings arrived at Dekaney High School in 2016, first as assistant director of bands and later as associate director of bands.
After a few years’ experience as a music educator, he enrolled once again at Sam Houston, this time to pursue a master’s degree in conducting, which Giddings completed in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic.
Giddings – who knew he wanted to be a band director by the time he was in middle school – had the opportunity to hear the Dekaney band play during a concert hosted at Sam Houston while he was in college. After hearing the group and meeting Cooper, Giddings was impressed by the ensemble’s high standards and level of musicality, and decided then that he wanted to come to Spring ISD for his student teaching.
“It was like something I’d never heard from a high school band,” Giddings said, “and I thought, ‘Okay, that’s where I want to do my internship. That’s where I want to student teach.’ So I did it, and I never looked back. I’ve been here in Spring ISD ever since.”
No stranger to a challenge, this new promotion into the top Dekaney band spot marks a career milestone for Giddings. According to Clark, it also represents a perfect example of the district’s commitment to nurturing talent and developing strong leadership pipelines.
“Chase was my student teacher while I was at Bammel Middle School, and he ended up being my first hire after I became director of performing and visual arts for the district,” said Clark. “We placed him at Claughton Middle School as a head director in his first year, which is highly unusual, but I knew he would thrive – and he did.”
Giddings is quick to credit the mentors who had supported his growth as a music educator – including fellow directors like Cooper and Clark, along with former Spring ISD staff members like longtime Westfield band director Philip Geiger; Spring High School’s Gabe Musella, who went on to become an assistant director with the statewide UIL music program; and Dr. Richard Crain, the district’s first director of music, who after his retirement from Spring ISD went on to serve as president of the board of directors of the prestigious Midwest Clinic.
“They’re leading professionals in the field,” said Giddings, who credited their work and dedication – along with the strong support of campus and district administrators, including Dekaney Principal Alonzo Reynolds III and Spring ISD Superintendent Dr. Rodney E. Watson – with maintaining Spring ISD’s reputation for outstanding fine arts education.
Reflecting back on his own early fascination with the organ as a child at church, Giddings said his goal as an educator is to give young people the permission to create, have fun, strive for excellence, and grow as human beings. He said the return to campus this fall after the pandemic would present challenges, but he also believes schools will be up to the task if educators support one another and their students.
“I know it sounds simple, but kids just want to be in a place where they can be themselves and feel supported and feel safe,” Giddings said. “And once you develop that, once you create that environment and kids want to be a part of it, you develop a culture. That’s really what it’s about.”