Mr. Christian W. Smith is currently in his 18th year as Director of Bands at George Walton Academy. He attended Columbus State University for two years and studied under the direction of Mr. Don Strand to obtain a Tuba Performance degree. After his two years at Columbus State, Mr. Smith was driven to continue his studies in music at the University of Georgia in Athens to pursue a degree in music education, while continuing his tuba studies with the late Dr. David Randolph. During his collegiate career at the University, Mr. Smith also studied conducting under the direction of Dr. H. D. Satterwhite, Dr. John Culvahouse, Mr. Mark Cedel and the late Dr. Pierce Arant. Mr. Smith began teaching as the Assistant Band Director at Wheeler High School in Marietta, GA. After a year there, he then became the director of bands at George Walton Academy in Monroe, GA. The band program has grown from 31 students to 160 students in his 17 years at George Walton. Mr. Smith has established six instrumental ensembles consisting of 5th grade through 12th grade students. Two of the ensembles include the Marching Bulldog Band and the GWA Symphonic Winds. Under his direction, the GWA Marching Bulldog Band and the Symphonic Winds have received superior ratings, numerous Best in Class awards, Three Silver Grand Championships and 1 USSBA National Championship. The Symphonic Winds performed as a guest band at the University of Georgia Midfest Clinic in December of 2004 and Mr. Smith received a Citation of Excellence from the National Band Association awarded by Dr. John Culvahouse. Mr. Smith lives with his wife, Mary, and is the proud father of his two daughters, Madison and Ella. Mr. Smith’s professional affiliations include: the Georgia Music Educators Association, National Band Association, and is an alumnus of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.
Ms. Lindsay Ferris will be joining George Walton this year as the new Assistant Band Director! She will lead the 5th grade Bullpup Band, the GWA Concert Ensemble, and serve as the Associate Director of the GWA Marching Bulldog Band. Ms. Ferris grew up in Kennesaw, Georgia where she attended Harrison High School. As a member of the Harrison Wind Ensemble and Marching Band for four years, she was fortunate to perform at events such as BOA Atlanta, CBDNA, National Concert Band Festival, and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Additionally, she was a frequent participant in the Georgia State Leadership Institute, Janfest, District 12 Honor Band, and the Georgia All-State Band.
Upon graduating high school, Ms. Ferris went on to pursue a degree in Music Education at Georgia State University. There she studied clarinet with Dr. Kenneth Long, and began her conducting studies under Dr. David Vandewalker, Dr. Thomas Wubbenhorst, and Dr. Chester Phillips. She was a member of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Wind Orchestra, Panther Band, and Pep Band as both a clarinetist, and her senior year a mellophonist.
Throughout her college tenure, Ms. Ferris held several teaching positions. She worked as a woodwind section coach and intern for Dr. David Vandewalker and the Metropolitan Atlanta Youth Wind Ensemble from 2013-2016. Additionally, with a strong background in marching fundamentals, Ms. Ferris was employed as a visual and music tech for many schools in the metropolitan area, and spent full seasons on staff with Harrison, Kell, and Hillgrove High Schools. Most recently, she student taught at Mabry Middle School with Ms. Jill Barnocki, and at Norcross High School with Mr. Lee Newman. Ms. Ferris graduated Magna Cum Laude from Georgia State this Spring, and is incredibly excited to join the George Walton Family!
Wayne Viar – Percussion Instructor
Wayne is a strong advocate for music education. He was a music education major at East Carolina University where he studied with Mark Ford (Director of Percussion at University of North Texas) and Carroll Dashiell (Maceo Parker, Bobby Watson, Ray Charles). He gives clinics for school programs, camps and teaches whenever possible. His most recent teaching tenure was as Director of Percussion at George Walton Academy; a private school in Monroe, GA with an award winning band program. During his time there they won Grand Champion at various USBands (YEA/USSBA) regionals. In 2010 they were the Class VI National Champions where they were the 5th highest scoring band with the 2nd highest scoring percussion unit out of 98 qualifying bands! As Director of Percussion he taught private lessons, arranged and taught the marching percussion, and coordinated the percussion ensemble. Due to his schedule he had to take a hiatus in 2013. However, he is very happy to announce he has returned in 2014-current.
His goal as an educator is to mix a solid fundamental curriculum with real-world experience to prepare students who would like to continue playing drums and percussion seriously, study percussion in college, and/or play professionally.
In addition to teaching, he has written and arranged for numerous high school and college bands across the country.
This upcoming year will be Caroline’s first year at GWA. She has been a huge advocate of the marching arts from a performer and teaching aspect since she first became involved in the activity in 2008. Caroline was born and raised in Marietta, GA and attended Hillgrove High School of Cobb County in Powder Springs. Here she was a member of the Hillgrove Marching Band Color Guard and Winter Guard for all four years, within which she was the Equipment Captain in 2010 and the Color Guard Head Captain in 2011 and 2012. After graduating from Hillgrove, Caroline attended Kennesaw State University. During this time KSU did not have their own marching band program which lead to Caroline teaching at Etowah HS in Cherokee County for 2 seasons. Caroline then transferred to the University of Georgia in 2015 to pursue a Bachelor’s in Political Science and will be graduating in Spring of 2018. While at UGA, Caroline was a member of the UGA Flagline, a part of the Redcoat band, for 2 seasons. Caroline’s color guard experience aside from that received at Hillgrove High School and UGA includes: The Edge Independent Winter Guard 2013-2015, The Crossmen World Class Drum & Bugle Corps 2013, ALLIANCE Drum & Bugle Corps 2014-2015, Paramount A Winter Guard 2016, Phantom Regiment Drum & Bugle Corps 2016, and lastly and most currently she is a member of Paramount World Winter Guard for the 2017 season. Caroline is extremely grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the GWA team and is very excited for what the future holds!