Ron Smith, Director of Bands, is currently serving in his twentieth year as a member of the Van Buren Instrumental Music Department staff. A graduate of Alma (AR) High School, Mr. Smith holds a B.S.E. degree from the University of Arkansas as well as a M.Ed. degree from the University of Arkansas. Before accepting a position in the Van Buren School District, Mr. Smith conducted championship bands for eight years in the state of Oklahoma, consistently receiving accolades on the state and regional level.
While serving as the Director of Bands for the Van Buren Schools, Mr. Smith has added to the long and proud tradition of performance excellence that the Van Buren Instrumental Music Program is synonymous with throughout the state and region - including numerous marching band caption awards, class championships and overall championships, as well as the addition of 12 ASBOA Sweepstakes Awards to a legacy that spans more than thirty years consecutively.
Mr. Smith has served as the staff music arranger for numerous high school and university marching bands throughout the United States. Mr. Smith is also an active clinician, adjudicator and consultant throughout the southwest United States serving bands in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Kansas, California and New Mexico. Mr. Smith's professional affiliations include ASBOA, ABA, OMEA, OBA, MENC, and Phi Beta Mu.
This year Mr. Smith will be celebrating his twenty-sixth year of marriage to his extremely wonderful and supportive wife Stephanie Everitt-Smith, PhD. The Smith's have two wonderful children – Dylan (16) and Bailey (13).
Dustin Chambers is a 1994 graduate of the University of Arkansas with a degree in Instrumental Music Education. Mr. Dustin Chambers taught for the Collinsville School District (OK) until 1999, when he accepted the position of Director of Percussion Studies for the Van Buren School District. In 2009 Mr. Chambers accepted the position as the Assistant Band Director for Van Buren High School while also remaining as the Percussion Director for the district grades 6 through 12.
During his tenure at VBHS, the drum line has won many awards for outstanding drum line at the Arkansas Open Marching contest, the Arkansas Governor's Cup Marching Contest, The Northwest Arkansas Marching Classic contest, and most recently at Renegade Review in Tulsa, OK. The high school percussion ensemble has performed at the Arkansas Day of Percussion at the University of Arkansas.
Mr. Chambers frequently serves as an adjudicator for marching contests in Arkansas and Oklahoma. Currently he has been performing with the Fort Smith Symphony. Mr. Chambers is also a staff percussion arranger/composer for Jair Klarfeld Music. He is a member of the Percussive Arts Society, the Vic Firth Education Team and an endorser of Evans Drumheads. Mr. Chambers plays drumset in the Grand Family Orchestra at Grand Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Smith.
He is married to his wonderful wife Stacey and they have 2 children, Ariana and Davis.
Mr. Caleb Taylor is a 2019 graduate from the University of Central Arkansas, where he received his Bachelor of Music Education. In May 2022, he will receive his Master of Music in instrumental conducting from Missouri State University. During his graduate studies, he served as a graduate teaching assistant with the Missouri State Pride Bands.
Mr. Taylor has had many opportunities to work with marching bands and concert bands in both Arkansas and Missouri. During his graduate studies, Mr. Taylor worked with the Missouri State University Wind Ensemble, Wind Symphony, Concert Band as well as the 300 member Pride Marching band. His students have been successful in All-Region, All-State, and College music auditions.
As a euphonium player, Mr. Taylor has performed with various ensembles including the University of Central Arkansas Wind Ensemble, the JaCaCoSa tuba quartet, the 2016 International Tuba Euphonium Conference young artists ensemble, the Arkansas Musicworks Brass Band, and the Missouri State University Symphony Orchestra. He was a semi-finalist in the Leonard Falcone International Euphonium and Tuba Festival in 2016. In June 2022, his original composition, Peak, will be performed by the Denton Brass Collective at the International Women’s Brass Conference at the University of North Texas.
Mr. Taylor has studied with some of the most highly respected music educators from across the region including Dr. Ricky Brooks, Dr. Gail Robertson, Dr. Justin Cook, Dr. Brad Snow & Dr. John Zastoupil.
Brent Evans is in his third year as a member of the Van Buren Band Staff, joining the team after spending the past 5 years as a band director at Ramsey Junior High & Southside High Schools in Fort Smith (AR). Prior to coming to Arkansas, Mr. Evans spent 18 years directing bands in the State of Oklahoma where his bands were consistent OSSAA Sweepstakes winners.
Mr. Evans holds a degree in Instrumental Music Education from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, OK. As a member of the Van Buren Band Staff, Mr. Evans co-directs the Van Buren High School Concert band, coordinates the Van Buren High School Jazz program, directs the Butterfield Trail Middle School 7th grade band, assists with the Pointer Pride Marching Band, teaches beginning trumpet, & works with Van Buren Freshman Academy Bands in all aspects of performance & player development.
Mr. Evans is a member of Phi Beta Mu, OBA, ABA, ASBOA, & past-president of the Eastern Oklahoma Band Directors Association. He firmly believes teaching music at any level to be a ministry.
He currently resides in Sallisaw, OK with his wife of 28 years, Carol who teaches 1st grade at Liberty Elementary in Sallisaw. The Evans's also have 3 children, Hayden (25) who is an electrician for Lowder Brothers in Fort Smith, AR, daughter Haleigh (21) Senior Public Relations Major at Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond, OK and Hope (19) a freshman at Oklahoma Christian University majoring in Vocal Music Education. They also are blessed with a beautiful daughter-in-law Jamie and their precious granddaughter Roseleigh. (15 months)
Garreth Atwell is a 2020 graduate of Arkansas Tech University where he received his Bachelor of Music Education degree. He has served as a band director in the Mountainburg School District and the Mountain Home School District. In his one year while at Mountainburg High School his band received straight superior ratings for the first time in over 20 years. At Mountain Home, Mr. Atwell has played a pivotal instructional role in the district's long history of successful concert and marching bands. While at Mountain Home he conducted the 9th grade band, assisted with the 7th grade brass and woodwind classes & the high school concert & marching band.
While at Arkansas Tech Mr. Atwell studied trumpet and horn under Dr. Gary Barrow, Dr. T.J. Perry, and Mr. Evan Mino. As a trumpet player he has performed in the ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble, the Arkansas Music Works British Brass Band, and in trumpet festivals across Europe. As a horn player he has also performed in the ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble at the 2018 College Band Directors National Association, and the Arkansas Music Works British Brass Band while they competed in North America British Brass Association’s national competition.
During his free time, Mr. Atwell enjoys watching tv, hiking, camping, and spending time with his family and his dog Korra.
Crystal Reeves is the Band Director at Northridge Middle School in Van Buren. Prior to coming to Van Buren, she served as the band director at Clarksville Junior High in Clarksville (AR). She holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Arkansas Tech University and is a National Board Certified Teacher (2017). Mrs. Reeves is currently working on her Master of Education through Arkansas Tech University.
Mrs. Reeves serves as the single reed specialist for the Van Buren Public Schools teaching clarinet, saxophone, & low reeds throughout the district. She considers her own clarinet teachers, Mr. Earl Allain and Dr. Kelly Johnson as some of her greatest influences.
In 2017, the Northridge Middle School 8th grade band was selected as a featured performing group at the ArkMEA State Convention. Mrs. Reeves has served as a guest clinician throughout Arkansas and holds professional membership in ASBOA, ABA, and Phi Beta Mu.
She currently resides in Van Buren with her husband Brad, who is a band director at Van Buren High School, her 11-year-old daughter Avril Kay, who is a sixth grader at Northridge Middle School, and her 6-year-old daughter Harper Leigh, who is a first grader at Oliver Springs Elementary. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her family and enjoying all things Disney.
Jacob Lehman is the newest member of the Van Buren Band Staff. Mr. Lehman is a 2011 graduate of Van Buren High School and a 2015 graduate of Arkansas Tech University. While at Arkansas Tech, Mr. Lehman served as the field conductor for the Arkansas Tech Marching Band and was principal flutist for the Symphonic Wind Ensemble. Mr. Lehman also earned the prestigious Alfred J. Crabaugh Award, recognizing him as the outstanding male student at Arkansas Tech.
Prior to joining the Van Buren Band Staff Mr. Lehman served as the Band Director at Shiloh Christian High School in Springdale, AR. While at Shiloh Christian, the band earned numerous accolades in both marching band and concert band. Most notably, the Shiloh Christian Marching Band was named the Class 3A Silver Medalist at the 2019 Arkansas State Marching Championship.
Mr. Lehman is celebrating 5 years of marriage with his wife Rachel (formerly Rachel LeDat), also a proud alum of the Van Buren Band program. While at Van Buren High School Rachel was a 3 time All-State Clarinet player. Rachel has recently graduated from the University of Arkansas with a PhD in Mathematics. We are thrilled to have Mr. and Mrs. Lehman “RE” join our Van Buren Band family and know they will be a wonderful addition to our school district and community!
Kaitlyn Craven is a 2020 graduate of the University of Arkansas with a degree in Instrumental Music Education. During her time at the U of A, Ms. Craven studied flute with Catalina Ortega and served as a drum major for the Razorback Marching Band. She also has two seasons of experience playing the mellophone with Drum Corps International marching with Pioneer & The Academy. Ms. Craven is excited to join the Van Buren Band team at Butterfield Trail Middle School where she will direct the 7th grade band and assist with all aspects of player development grades 6-12 in the Van Buren School District.
In her free time, Ms. Craven enjoys singing and calling the hogs. She is also a Disney enthusiast and wrote her honors thesis on the music produced by the Walt Disney Company.
Colleen O'Connor joined the Van Buren Band Staff in 2019 and serves as the Director of Colorguard Activities for the Van Buren Public Schools. A native of St. Louis, MO, Ms. O’Connor has performed with the Lindbergh High School Colorguard in front of a televised audience of over 47 million viewers at the prestigious Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA. and has also performed with the 300 member Pride of Missouri State Marching Band while serving as the captain of their 80 member colorguard. Ms. O’Connor brings an extensive resume of Winter Guard International World Championship performance experience with both the Pride of Missouri State Independent ‘Open’ class winter guard and the National Avenue Independent ‘A’ class winter guard.
Ms. O'Connor also serves as a Culinary Arts teacher for the Van Buren High School. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Family and Consumer Sciences Education at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri. When she has free time, she loves to curl up on the couch with her dog and watch movies on Netflix, finding new hiking trails, or visiting her family in St. Louis.