New Panther Band Director says he feels at home in Liberty Hill

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By Christian Betancourt

New band and fine arts director Shawn Murphy said he’s finally found home after landing a job in Liberty Hill ISD.

“Nowhere I’ve ever been, or anything I’ve ever done has felt as much as home as Liberty Hill does,” he said. “I have 20 years of experience at directing at this level.”

Murphy said he’s been leading bands comprised of 140-200 students throughout his career, a level of participation the school will reach as the district grows.

“We just added 40 kids,” he said. “We’re looking to add the same amount next year. Here in the next few years, we will be in the 200-220 range. That’s probably where it will level off. We’ll be the little band at the contests. We’ll be the little guy that packs a punch. When we start adding more kids, then it’s going to be even better.”

Murphy said he heard about the job from a friend who told him about what he called a “gold mine” in Liberty Hill. His decision to leave his position at Burleson Centennial High School came shortly after.

“He told me about the school and the kids,” he said. “He told me how they wanted to be really good, and they were struggling from going from a small school into a 5A school.”

Making the transition to Liberty Hill was smooth. He said the response at Liberty Hill was one of the warmest he has received.

“I’ve seen a bunch of different situations in the first few months,” he said. “Pretty much everybody here has trust and goes along with what I’m asking them to do. They give their full effort. The process has been faster.”

Murphy is not the only new face directing the band. He said he found a great assistant director in his former student Ashlynne Turner who followed him to Liberty Hill.

“She just got her music degree in Arkansas, and now she’s here,” said Murphy. “She has a positive energy, organizational skills, and she’s very helpful in everything that has to do with band. We are in the early stages of building something special, and we need that energy. I trust her blindly. She did great things as a student leader and as a player. I know that she’s going to have the exact same level as a band director.”

“It was a little odd at first,” added Turner. “Because my old teacher is now my boss. It’s super fun. I came in knowing how he ran things. I know we’re going to make this band great because he is great.”

Murphy said he fully trusts his team to create a great band that properly represents the Panthers.

“Everybody is good at what they do,” he said. “I trust and delegate.”

As a fine arts coordinator, Murphy said he works with lower grades to create a culture as students progress through their education.

“Our middle schools are great, and those directors are great,” he said. “We go to the middle schools every single day. I get to see the middle school kids, and they get to know who we are and what we are expecting. They are already part of our band family, and we are just waiting for them to get here to the high school campus. I’ll tell them, ‘I have a spot saved for you at the high school band,’ and they stand a little bit taller.”

Murphy, a self-proclaimed enthusiast of all things sports, said being a part of the LHHS football program holds a special place in his heart.

“We get to be one of the biggest supporters of our football team,” he said. “We got the dancers, you got the cheerleaders, and you got us. It’s a big honor in a town that values the sport as much as Liberty Hill does. I’m very excited to be here. It finally feels like I’m home.”

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