Morton prepares to lay down baton after nearly 38 years as band teacher

Published 2:01 pm Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Raymond Morton led the Happy Valley band concert for the final time on Tuesday, as he prepares to retire after nearly 38 years in music education.

Morton began his teaching career at Johnson County before transitioning to Unaka High School and then Happy Valley High School. His love for music came from his mother and other family members.

“When I was little, I wanted to play guitar,” Morton said. “Mom played piano and organ in church and I guess that is where it all started. I had grandparents and other relatives that played instruments as well.”

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Morton has tried to pass along the love he has for music to his students, explaining that music is about just having fun when a couple of people get together and play for hours.

Morton’s satisfaction from teaching music is seeing when his students finally “get it.”

“It’s their expression when they finally get a certain piece of music that they are working on and it’s correct and it fits in like it is supposed to, they just kind of smile from ear to ear,” said Morton.

Morton was emotional before the final concert.

“I can just about tell stories on all the kids and they can tell stories on me too,” said Morton. “We wouldn’t have enough time to sit in the gym and share those stories because it would take until midnight or after. It’s just going to be a roller coaster. … It’s tough because they are basically my other family because we are together so much.”

Morton said he also will miss the relationships with students. “I guess that I am a good sounding board where they can vent over something else that has happened. We get along and take the world as it goes to see what happens,” said Morton.

After retirement, Morton said he plans to “do a little camping and a little fishing.”

“I have a few years to make up to my wife who is patiently been waiting on this part.”