John Pruitt earned his B.M.E. at East Carolina University (NC) after marching baritone with Spirit of Atlanta in 1983. Upon graduation from ECU, he completed Aviation Officer Candidate School and received his commission into the US Navy, where he trained as a naval flight officer.
Mr. Pruitt remains certified as a commercial pilot and flight instructor. In 1992 he began his career as a music educator at McColl Middle School (SC) and later served as band director at Cheraw HS (1996-2007), leading them to the SC AA marching band title in his final year.
Mr. Pruitt was named Director of Bands at Fort Mill HS in 2007. He is an active trombonist, performing with the Carolinas Wind Orchestra, church orchestras, and other ensembles in the greater Charlotte area. He is the father of three (Tim, Sam, Aimee) and became a grandfather in 2013.
While on medical leave in 2018, Mr. Pruitt fought his way back from heart surgery and multiple strokes. He retired in January 2019, but will continue to volunteer his time and talents as his health allows.
Interim Director of Bands
Ren Patel learned his earliest lessons in arranging as Bob Cotter’s student in the Gaffney HS Band. He was the principal bassoonist in the Winthrop University Wind Symphony and played tuba in the pep band and tuba choir.
He completed his student teaching at Fort Mill HS in 2011 while earning his B.M.E. at Winthrop. After serving as a band director in Cherokee and Greenville counties, he returned to Fort Mill HS in the summer of 2014.
Mr. Patel is a composer, arranger, performer, and clinician. He is a member of NAFME, SCBDA, and the Society of Music Theory.
In 2017 he became the principal music arranger for the FMHS marching band.
Individual & Ensemble Visual
Mr. Ford joined the Fort Mill staff in 1988, after four years as a member of the FMHS Band, including serving as Drum Major his senior year. He earned his B.A. in English at Furman University, where he also studied saxophone with Dr. Clifford Leaman and performed with the jazz bands.
Mr. Ford earned an M.A. in English from USC-Columbia and has taught English at Fort Mill High School since 1995. He currently teaches AP English, Film & Fiction, and serves as department chair. He is a long-time Carolina Crown volunteer and currently serves on the corps’ Advisory Board.
Drill Designer & Banks Trail MS Band Director
Mr. Godbey finished his B.M.E at James Madison University in 1986 and joined the Fort Mill staff soon after. From 1987-1999 he was the marching band’s principal drill writer; he returned to that role and the marching band staff in 2008.
He has served as a middle school band director at Fort Mill MS, Gold Hill MS, Springfield MS, and now teaches at Banks Trail MS. Mr. Godbey earned his Master’s in Music Education and a Master’s in Public School Leadership at Winthrop University.
He is an active member of SCBDA, SCMEA, MENC, and the Carolina Crown Advisory Board. Mr. Godbey frequently judges marching and concert bands throughout the southeast.
After four years as a member of the Fort Mill HS Band, Ms. Hughes started assisting with percussion instruction in 2001 and was named Percussion Director in 2007.
She earned her B.M.E. at Winthrop University and teaches daily at Fort Mill HS, along with frequent visits to Gold Hill MS and Banks Trail MS. Ms. Hughes also directs Fort Mill’s winter percussion ensemble.
Color Guard Director
Mr. McCurley joined the Fort Mill staff in 2014. He is also a choreographer and instructor for the WGI Independent A Finalist Aria Winter Guard from Greensboro, NC. Matt has taught and choreographed for color guards in North and South Carolina, as well as Virginia.
He is currently the drill designer for multiple groups in the Carolinas. Matt performed with Aria Winter Guard in 2006 and 2007 and Etude Winter Guard in 2008 and 2009.
He received his music education degree from Winthrop University and currently teaches music at Palisades Park Elementary School in Charlotte, NC. He is a former president of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity and received the prestigious Collegiate Honor Award in 2008.
Pleasant Knoll Middle School Director of Bands
Mr. Sanders earned music education degrees from Winthrop University (Bachelors) and Kent State University (Masters). He is a member of NAfME, SCMEA, SCBDA, and school councils.
Mr. Sanders also serves on SCBDA committees and was an executive board member of several community and leadership based chapters of honor societies and fraternities.
Under Mr. Sanders’ guidance, a surplus of students are annually seated in various honor bands. His ensembles have received consistent Superior ratings while annually earning the SCBDA “Outstanding Performance Award”.
Mr. Sanders has been an honor band clinician on numerous occasions and received the SCMEA’s “Outstanding Young Music Educator Award” (2016). He has created jazz ensembles, student mentoring programs, and chartered a Tri-M Music Honor Society that won “National Chapter of the Year” within its’ first year (2014).
Mr. Sanders began his career at Chesterfield-Ruby Middle School, where he was Teacher of the Year and a District Teacher of the Year finalist (2014). He then taught at Springfield Middle School and became a Teacher of the Year finalist (2017). In June 2017, Mr. Sanders joined the FMHS marching band staff and started the band program at Pleasant Knoll Middle School, where he currently serves as Director of Bands.
Brandon is happily married to Adrienne; an amazing wife, elementary teacher, school leader, and former drum major who shares his intense passion for education, music, and band.