Bradwell Institute Band Director Jeremy Fermin will be leaving the Tiger family after the school year ends.
He said has accepted the job to lead the band at Veterans High School in Houston County.
Fermin’s career began in Houston County as an assistant director for Perry High School after he graduated from the University of Georgia.
In 2012 Fermin was hired as Bradwell’s director, allowing the Liberty County native to return home. He graduated from Liberty County High School.
At Bradwell, he revamped the marching band’s halftime show, bringing in modern tunes with energized beats. He also energized the booster club, including raising $40,000 to get new band uniforms. Within a year Fermin took the marching band to competitions. In October 2013 the Tiger Marching Band earned superior ratings in music and general effects at the Coastal Empire Classic.
A year later, the band placed fifth at the Georgia Marching Band Series Championship at Mercer University in Macon.
That same month Fermin was chosen as Bradwell’s Teacher of the Year.
"I wonder how much of my success is because I am truly from Hinesville," Fermin said, noting he is a descendant of Charlton Hines for whom Hinesville is named. "I had community support because I’m from here."
Fermin said being home allowed him to make mistakes in a caring environment.
"The hardest thing to do is to go to some place you’ve never been and try and integrate yourself into the community," he said. "At least I have roots here."
Accepting the new job is for his career, he said.
"It wasn’t a personal decision as much as it is an opportunity for an advancement of my career," he continued. "I told the kids that I was just glad our paths had crossed for however long or however brief."
Leaving the students is hard, Fermin said. His current seniors have been with him since they were freshmen.
"It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, hands down," he said. "The relationship I’ve formed with some of these kids started in middle school. … I would go and visit, and if I could take them all with me, I would.
"Sometimes I felt like a music missionary. There are so many of these kids here that don’t have a father figure and I’ve had some of them say what am I going to do now, you were my father figure."
He said his students are bright.
"There is a stigma in Hinesville. That it is a transient community, so education here isn’t what it should be. But I find that to be a false statement," he said. "Here at Bradwell, in the band I have the best and brightest, valedictorians, salutatorians and the top percentage of the class."
Fermin said Veterans is a relatively new school. The concert band has 220 students and has its own performing arts center. While the concert band is big, Fermin said the marching band is small.
"Veterans has the numbers to draw from," he said. "At the meet and greet I went to, I told them that there are five high schools in Houston County, and Veterans is the only school that hasn’t won a grand champion. I told them I intend on changing that."
His first task there will address the halftime show.
"Its old school and I think they want a little bit more new school there which I guess is my style," Fermin said. "The bottom line is we have to be entertaining … I don’t want people, either here at Bradwell or at Veterans, getting up and going to get nachos during the performance."
He said there is still work for him with the Tiger band.
"We still have a concert to do that is going to be emotional," he said. "We still have a band trip. We still have spring concert and we still have graduation."