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.
Assistant Brass Coordinator/Assistant Marching Coordinator
Brandon Meeks is from Charlotte, North Carolina, and is a 2009 magna cum laudegraduate of Western Carolina University where he received a Bachelor of Science in Music Education and a 2018 graduate of The Florida State University where he received a Master of Music Education degree. While at Western Carolina, Mr. Meeks was also a recipient of the prestigious North Carolina Teaching Fellows scholarship program.
From 2009-2016 he served as the Director of Bands at East Lincoln Middle School in Iron Station, NC. While at East Lincoln, Mr. Meeks grew the band program to over 180 students and changed the face of the band program by placing high expectations on musical excellence, responsibility, discipline, teamwork, and respect. Under his leadership, the Falcon Band consistently received Superior and Excellent ratings at state festivals
In 2013, Brandon Meeks was named the East Lincoln Middle School Teacher of the Year. In 2014, he received National Board Certification in Early Adolescent and Young Adulthood Music Education. In 2016, he received the NC South Central District Young Director Award of Excellence, an award which was voted on by his colleagues in the South-Central District.
Mr. Meeks is currently pursuing a Doctoral Degree in Music Education from Florida State University where he studies research in the music education profession and conducting.
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
Ashlee Allaire is currently a percussion performance major at Florida State University where she studies with Dr. John Parks and plans to graduate in the spring of 2021. Prior to that, she attended St Petersburg College where she studied with John Shaw, principal percussionist of The Florida Orchestra, and completed her Associate in Arts. Ashlee marched 3 years (2016-2018) on bass drum with the Infinity Percussion organization from Orlando, Florida. She performed with the 2018 DCI open class champions, Santa Clara Vanguard Cadets, where she played marimba. She has won multiple competitions as both a solo and ensemble performer.
Her previous teaching experience includes directing the percussion section at Pinellas Park High School, serving as a percussion instructor at the FSU Summer Music Camps, as well as teaching private lessons throughout her collegiate experience. This is her first year on staff with Leon High School and she is thrilled to be here!
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.