Randy Fillmore - Director of Bands
Randy grew up on a farm outside of Ripley, Oklahoma. His family raised wheat, alfalfa, soybeans, field corn, sweet corn and ran a herd 120 of Angus cattle. During his early years, Randy participated in 4-H and FFA, attending many of the fairs and stock shows.
Ripley Public Schools consisted of grades 1-12 (meeting in the same building). The schools allowed students to join the band in 4th grade and they began high school band experience in 7th grade. Randy's senior class was the largest class to graduate from Ripley (31), with 68 members in the high school band that year.
Mr. Fillmore received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from Oklahoma State University in 1976. While at OSU, he served as the marching band drum major for four years. Following graduation, he began his teaching career at West Junior High in Liberal, Kansas. In 1982, he returned to Oklahoma to teach at Anadarko High School. When a graduate assistant position opened, Randy returned to Oklahoma State in 1984 to continue work on a Master of Science degree in Higher Education Administration. In 1985, he moved to Salina High School South and taught there for twenty years.
Melissa Smith - Assistant Band Director
Melissa Smith currently works in the Lawrence Public Schools as a sixth grade band/orchestra teacher at West Middle School, Lawrence High School freshman and concert orchestra assistant, and at Free State High School marching/symphonic band assistant.
Mrs. Smith came to Lawrence from Boone High School in Boone, Iowa, where she was the Director of Bands for ten years. During her time in Boone, the band program received superior ratings at state and regional concert band and solo/ensemble festivals, and contributed numerous students to the Iowa all-state band and other regional honor bands.
Prior to her time in Iowa, Mrs. Smith directed the band programs in Moody, Texas, served as a band and orchestra director at her alma mater in Danville, Illinois, and began her teaching career in Highland, Illinois. Ensembles under her direction have performed in festivals at the Gator and Liberty Bowls, Winter Guard International for both guard and percussion, and in concert in New York City. She has worked with a number of color guards at the high school level, was the flag instructor at Iowa State University from 2003-2008, and is currently serving as one of the color guard instructors for the University of Kansas Marching Jayhawks.
Mrs. Smith holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from the University of Illinois. She is a member of Sigma Alpha Iota and has an honorary membership in Tau Beta Sigma. Melissa is also an accomplished oboist, having performed in many community and regional bands and orchestras in Illinois, Texas, and Iowa.
Her greatest accomplishment is her family: husband, Matthew Smith and daughters Brooke and Bailey Smith.
Assistant Band Director (Concert & Symphonic Band); Director Firebird Jazz Program
Collin Watgen currently works in the Lawrence Public School District as a sixth-grade band director at Billy Mills Middle School, assistant band director at Free State High School for the Concert Band, Symphonic Band, and is the director of the Firebird Jazz program. He started his career teaching at the charter school Frontier School of Excellence in Kansas City, MO where he created their music curriculum which was comprised of music appreciation, general music, class piano lessons, music history, and started the school’s first band program.
Mr. Watgen is a graduate of Free State High School and the University of Kansas where he was involved in bands, orchestra, choir, and theater. As a percussionist, he has performed with the Lawrence City Band, Lawrence Community Orchestra, and Kansas City Chiefs Rumble Drumline. Mr. Watgen is a member of the Kansas Music Educators Association, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and serves as a board member for the Kansas John Philip Sousa Junior Honor Band.