Director of Bands
Lee Commander currently instructs Symphonic Band, Concert Band, Beginning Band, Jazz Band and the Marching Redcoats. All of the ensembles at Leon High School have maintained Superior Ratings at both the district and state levels under the Direction Mr. Commander, including the prestigious Otto Kraushaar Award. Prior to earning his B.M.E from The Florida State University Mr. Commander was highly involved with the College of Music where he worked on the Board of Advisors for the College of Music, Marching Coordinator and later Staff Manager for the illustrious Marching Chiefs. He was awarded the Manley Whitcomb Scholarship in 2010 for his continued support and effort to music education and a Medal of Honor from The Marching Chiefs. As the newest Director of the Leon Band, he has added the Instrumental Lesson’s Academy where students can receive one-on-one instruction from music professionals in the area. This program has allowed over 25 different students in the band program to receive individual instruction.
Mr. Commander is currently finishing his Master’s in Music Education from the Florida State University where he is working with Alice-Ann Darrow to develop curriculum for students with significant disabilies to have an opportunity to participate in an ensemble music setting. Mr. Commander currently coordinates the “Lion’s United Band” at Leon High School, where students from self-contained classroom settings can perform in an integrated classroom environment along with several other performing ensembles at Leon HS such as Steel Pans, Guitar and Chorus.
In addition to his work with Leon High School Mr. Commander works with collegiate bands throughout the Southeast United States as Counselor for Tau Beta Sigma. Since his appointment with this organization, he was been granted Honorary Membership to Tau Beta Sigma as well as Kappa Kappa Psi. Additionally, Mr. Commander is a member of the Marching Chiefs Alumni Association Board of Directors. His other professional associations include, National Association for Music Education, The Florida Music Educator’s Association and The Florida Bandmasters Association where he works as the District III Secretary.
Assistant Director/ Woodwind Instructor/ Marching Coordinator
Erin Whalley well…. she is something.
Brass Director/ Marching Coordinator
Mr. Matthew Harmon has been the brass specialist/drill instructor for the Leon Marching Redcoats since the fall of 2015. He received his bachelor’s degree in instrumental music education from The Florida State University. During his time at FSU, Matt performed with a variety of ensembles (including the FSU Marching Chiefs) in which he played mostly low brass instruments which include euphonium, tuba, trombone, and bass trombone. He also has experience performing on the trumpet. Mr. Harmon Has been an elementary school music teacher in Leon County for the last two school years. He is currently teaching elementary school general music and ukulele at the School of Arts and Sciences at the Centre (SASC). In his free time, Mr. Harmon also runs his own private lessons and recording studio out of his home.
Director of Percussion
Michael Panzarino is the percussion director at Leon High School and also teaches privately from his residence percussion studio. Michael maintains an active membership to both FMEA and FBA, the latter of which he holds certified percussion adjudicator status. While at FSU, Mr. Panzarino was a member of the Big 8 Drumline in the Marching Chiefs, studied percussion, and played with a myriad of ensembles. Currently, he performs in the percussion section with the Tallahassee Winds.
While maintaining a full schedule he has also served as an itinerant clinician, adjudicator, and instructor to various music programs around the states of Florida and Georgia.
During Mr. Panzarino’s tenure teaching privately and in public schools, he has premiered several full percussion ensemble pieces, wind/percussion pieces, and a wide array of other marching percussion and full band arrangements.
Front Ensemble Technician
Mitchell Eldridge is a performing musician, percussion instructor, composer, and audio/video engineer based in Tallahassee, Florida. Mr. Eldridge expects to graduate from The Florida State University in May 2019 with a Bachelor of Music Performance degree. Mr. Eldridge performs regularly with all premiere wind, string, and percussion ensembles at FSU and premieres new music for the Society of Music composers every year.
Mr. Eldridge performed with the world class drum and bugle corps, Carolina Crown in 2016 and 2018. Mr. Eldridge also teaches the front ensembles at Leon High School and Millard North High School and offers masterclasses for the schools’ percussionists. Millard North High School won the Nebraska State Marching Band contest in 2016 and the caption for high percussion in 2017.
Mr. Eldridge’s current and former teachers include Dr. John Parks, IV, Jim Ancona, Thom Hannum, Marcus Neudigate, Alex Kluttz, Annie Chernow, Brendan Walter, Amanda Loeffler, and Dr. Dave Hall.
Color Guard Coordinator
Cheryl Wimberley is a world renowned choreographer and designer. Currently she works as Head Designer for Color guards, winter guards, baton teams, dance teams and soloists throughout the World. Additionally, she has worked on BOA bands as well as competition and show bands throughout the U.S.
Cherly served as Florida Federation of Colorguard Circuit (FFCC) President for ten years, and was recently inducted into the FFCC Hall of Fame.
For the past few summers, Cheryl has worked as a World Team Coach for baton of which her students were awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals in Croatia, Sweden, England, France, Norway and Switzerland. ( Over twenty five medals)
Additonal accomplishments include:
- finalist for teacher of the year several times.
- Former Color Guard instructor for FSU Marching Chiefs
- Shaktai Performance Company ( World Class Top 5 Color Guard)
- Taravella High School ( Gold medalist team)
- Design Consultant and member of choreography team.
- A former feature twirler for FSU.
More importantly, Cheryl loves working with the youth of today by challenging them to maximize their untapped talents.
Thank you for allowing me to join your wonderful program.
Taylor Whittle is the coach and sponsor of the Leon High School Dance Team, The Leonettes. After graduating from FSU with a BA in Rehabilitation Services and Counseling, Taylor served as the Performing Arts Coordinator for Pyramid Studios, a day center for adults with developmental disabilities.
Taylor has choreographed numerous shows throughout Tallahassee and Quincy and won “Best Choreography” at Theatre Tallahassee for her work in Evita and West Side Story. She is currently a teacher in the ESE Department at Leon.