Director of Bands
Colbert Page Howell, Jr
Colbert Page Howell, Jr. has served on the Vero Beach High School Faculty since the fall of 2006 when he was appointed Associate Director of Bands. In July of 2016, he became the Director of Bands at VBHS. Howell’s duties at Vero Beach include team - teaching the symphonic bands and the Fighting Indians Marching Band, directing the Jazz Band, and conducting the Chamber Winds. Mr. Howell also administers the entire band program and serves as chair of the VBHS Performing Arts Department. Ensembles under his direction have received consistent superior ratings and have performed at the Florida Music Educators Association Professional Development Conference, the National Band and Orchestra Festival in Carnegie Hall, the University of South Carolina Band Clinic, the Music for All National Concert Band Festival, the University of Florida Band Invitational, the Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl, and the London New Year’s Day Parade. The VBHS Band was awarded the National Band Association Blue Ribbon Award of Excellence for the Southern Division in 2017. In addition to his duties at Vero Beach High School, Mr. Howell currently serves as conductor and music director of the Vero Beach Chamber Orchestra and is the founder and conductor of the Treasure Coast Wind Ensemble. Mr. Howell served as the Adjunct Professor of Saxophone at Indian River State College from 2012 until 2017. Prior to Vero Beach, Mr. Howell taught middle school band in North Carolina.
Mr. Howell earned his BM in Education from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he studied conducting with John Locke and Clarinet with Kelly Burke. He earned the Master of Music Degree from Louisiana State University where he studied conducting and wind literature with Frank Wickes and Music Education with James Byo and Evelyn Orman.
From 1999 until 2012 Howell served as a rehearsal assistant, musicianship class instructor, and conductor at the UNCG Summer Music Camp. In 2012 he was inducted into the UNCG Summer Music Camp Staff Hall of Fame. Mr. Howell is a certified adjudicator for the Florida Bandmasters Association and has presented clinics and written articles on chamber wind literature, band intonation, and the Yamaha Harmony Director. From 2008 until 2013, Howell served as Chairman of District 13 of the Florida Bandmasters Association and was a member of the Executive Board. He has served as a member of the FBA Solo and Ensemble Music committee. In 2015 and 2017, Mr. Howell received the National Band Association Citation of Excellence Award. In 2017 he was one of the first recipients of the FBA Andrew Jack Crew Award. He is a member of NAFME, FMEA, FBA, NBA, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Mr. Howell currently resides in Vero Beach with his wife, Stacy.
Associate Director of Bands
Ms. Jessica Russell became the Associate Director of Bands at Vero Beach High School in the summer of 2019. Her responsibilities at VBHS include team teaching the Symphonic Bands, Fighting Indians Marching Band, and Jazz Bands.
Ms. Russell served as Director of Bands at Edgewood Jr/Sr High School in Brevard County, Florida the fall of 2009 until the Spring of 2019. In that time, Ms. Russell developed a comprehensive wind and percussion curriculum from the beginning stages of performance to the advanced level. Ms. Russell has also worked to develop a comprehensive jazz curriculum, including the addition of a beginning jazz course and jazz combo program. Her jazz and concert ensembles consistently earn superior ratings at district and state levels. Her students also participate annually in the Florida All-State and Brevard All-County Ensembles.
Ms. Russell holds a B.M.E degree from Ohio State University, where she studied oboe performance with Robert Sorton, and an M.M.E degree from Florida State University, with special study in the area of secondary jazz education. Prior to serving as Florida Bandmasters’ Association District 10 chairperson, Ms. Russell served as the District 10 Mentoring Coordinator. She is also a member of the FBA Small Schools Committee, and serves as an FBA certified adjudicator
Ms. Russell has served on the Brevard County Music Curriculum Team, Music Advisory Board, and Music Leadership Team. She currently resides in Port St. John, Florida where she teaches oboe lessons. She also regularly performs in the community, and is a member of the Central Florida Winds.
Director of Bands Emeritus
James M. Sammons
James M. Sammons retired as the Director of Bands in 2016 a position he held since 1980. Mr. Sammons is a native of Colquitt, Georgia and graduated from Miller County High School in 1972. He received his Bachelor of Music Education from Troy University in 1976 and was a member of the famed “Sound of the South” Band under the direction of Dr. John M. Long.
Mr. Sammons is a life member of the Florida Bandmasters Association, serving the FBA for eighteen years in a variety of positions at the district and state level including District Secretary, District Chairperson, Solo and Ensemble Chairperson. Mr. Sammons served as President of the Florida Bandmasters Association from 1996-1998. He is also a member of the Florida Music Educators Association, the National Association for Music Education and the National Band Association. Mr. Sammons was inducted into the Florida Bandmasters Association Hall of Fame in November of 2013 and was featured the School Band and Orchestra Magazine in April 2114.
Mr. Sammons began his career at Goshen High School in Goshen, Alabama (1974-1976) as Director of Bands (including all instrumental activities, grades 4 through 12) while completing his undergraduate studies at Troy University. During his tenure with the Goshen High School Band, the band appeared at the Alabama Bandmasters Association State Concert Festival for the first time in school history. From 1976-1980, Sammons served as Director of Bands at Walton High School in DeFuniak Springs, Florida. The Walton High School Band consistently received superior ratings at both marching and concert band festivals and appeared at the Florida Bandmasters Association State Concert Festival on three occasions, the first such appearances by the band in over 25 years.
Mr. Sammons is an active adjudicator and clinician for state and national events.
He has been recognized as the Indian River County Teacher of the Year and has received Official Proclamations and Citations from the City Council of Vero Beach, the Indian River County Board of Commissioners, the Veterans Council of Indian River County, the Legislature of the State of Florida, and the Office of the Governor of the State of Florida. He has been awarded the Citation of Excellence from the National Band Association and the Southeastern United States Concert Band Clinic. Mr. Sammons has also been honored by the Indian River County Association of School Administrators’ with the Best of the Best Award and has received the Principal’s Award for Excellence from Vero Beach High School.
In addition to his duties as Director of Bands at Vero Beach High School, he serves as Chairman of the VBHS Performing Arts Department and Coordinator of Instrumental Music for the Indian River County Schools. He has been married to Mrs. Priscilla Sammons since 1999, working with him as an integral member of the VBHS Band Staff and serving as Director of Auxiliary units since 1995. His son, Dr. Michael Sammons, D.M.A., a 1998 graduate of Vero Beach High School and member of the VBHS Band, currently serves on the percussion faculty at the University of Utah.
Mr. Greenwood is in his third year as the Percussion Director at Vero Beach High School. He is a 2012 graduate of VBHS and was highly active as a member of the Fighting Indians Band. He attended the University of South Florida where he studied percussion with Robert McCormick. At USF, he performed with the McCormick Percussion Group, the Herd of Thunder Drumline, was a featured percussionist with the Symphonic Band, and Co-Principal Percussionist of the Wind Ensemble. Since assuming his role as the Percussion Director, the VBHS Percussion Ensembles have continued to receive superior ratings at the Solo & Ensemble MPA. He also made an appearance at the 24th annual “Red, White, and Blue” concerts, performing a xylophone feature with the combined VBHS Concert Bands. Mr. Greenwood maintains a private-lesson studio of percussion students from across Indian River County. In addition to his duties for the VBHS Percussion Program, he is currently in his second year as the Director of Bands at Gifford Middle School, with most his band students continuing to become members of the Fighting Indians Band. He graduated Cum Laude in 2015 with his Bachelor of Science in Music Education. He is a member of FMEA, FBA, and the Percussive Arts Society (PAS), and enjoys educating students in the art of percussion.
Mrs. Russell joined the VBHS Marching Indian staff in January 2017. A Michigan native, Mrs. Russell is a graduate of Concordia University-Ann Arbor, MI and is currently an English teacher at Oslo Middle School. Mrs. Russell brings 23 years of studio dance training and teaching experience to the color guard.