Mr. Simon is very excited to join the band program at Franklin High School as the Head Band Director. Prior to his appointment at Franklin HS, Mr. Simon served as the Associate Director at Clear Creek High School in League City, TX for three years. While at Clear Creek HS, he was the conductor for the concert, symphonic, and jazz bands. He also established the first jazz band program and started the first chapter of Future Music Educators. Under his tenure, the symphonic and concert bands received numerous excellence and superior ratings at the UIL concert and sight reading contest.
Mr. Simon is a graduate of Texas Tech University where he attained degrees in Music Education and Music Performance. While at Texas Tech, he was the Drum Major for the Goin’ Band from Raiderland, studied abroad at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England and performed with the Texas Tech Concert band as a soloist.
Mr. Simon is an advocate of the marching arts and music education. He performed with the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps in 2010 and 2011 and in 2012, he won a championship with the Blue Devils Drum & Bugle Corps. Mr. Simon has taught several SaSi drum major camps working with the best and brightest students from schools around Texas on their leadership and conducting skills. He also is one of the founding members of Young Band Directors of Texas, an organization that supports first year band directors. He has presented clinics at the TMEA and TBA conventions on teaching young directors on how to support themselves and avoid burnout. Mr. Simon will serve as the Regional Representative for the Southwest Region of Texas.
Mr. Simon is an active performer, he previously held the title of principal euphonium for the Houston Brass Band, prior to his appointment at Franklin HS.
Mr. Simon is looking forward to living in El Paso with his wife, Lauren, a Franklin HS alumni, and their two dogs, Ella & Finn.
Jesus Candela, Associate Director
Jesus Candela is a graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso and is in his 4th year of teaching. Currently, he is the Assistant Band Director at Franklin High School. Prior to joining Franklin High School, he served as the Assistant Band Director at Wiggs Middle School, and Head Band Director at Chaparral Middle School in Chaparral, NM. Mr. Candela is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Wind Conducting from the University of Texas at El Paso where he studies under Bradley Genevro.
As an active musician, he has frequently performed with the Orquesta Sinfonica de la Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juarez, El Paso Symphony Orchestra, Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra, Mesilla Valley Concert Band, and the UTEP Dinner Theater. Mr. Candela's drum corps experience includes marching trumpet with the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps in 2013, and currently serving in the brass staff at Arsenal Drum and Bugle Corps. He also serves on the faculty with El Paso Symphony Youth Orchestras as a woodwind sectional coach. In 2017, he was the recipient of the University of Texas at El Paso, Department of Music: Meritorious Service Award. Mr. Candela is a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America and Kappa Kappa Psi Honorary Band Fraternity.
Christopher Lawhorne grew up in the Atlanta (GA) metropolitan area and has been a dedicated musician virtually all his life. His interest in musical composition led him to develop a strong skill set both as a percussionist and pianist, and his first work was performed while he still was a student in high school. He thrives on innovation and design and uses those elements to bring his compositions and performing ensembles success.
Mr. Lawhorne attended Reinhardt University where he developed and crafted his compositional skills while receiving his Bachelor of Music Education and Instrumental Conducting. During his degree work Mr. Lawhorne studied with Dr. David Gregory, Dr. George Lucktenberg, and Richard Bell. His student teaching experience gave him the opportunity to work extensively with high school students where the results of his teaching and rehearsing brought the Intermediate Band their very first superior rating at Georgia Music Educators Association’s Large Group Performance Evaluation.
While at Reinhardt University, several of Mr. Lawhorne’s works were performed under the baton of Dr. David Gregory, and he was given the opportunity to conduct one of his orchestral compositions in concert. Mr. Lawhorne had several percussion ensemble pieces performed at Reinhardt’s annual High School Honor Band Clinics. The guest conductor of one of these honor bands was Dr. Lowell Graham who offered Chris the opportunity to serve as a Teaching Assistant while pursuing his Master’s degree at the University of Texas in El Paso.
His degree work in Musical Composition gave Mr. Lawhorne the opportunity of additional course work in Instrumental Conducting. In addition to his conducting studies, Mr. Lawhorne was tasked with directing the UTEP Concert Band. He opened ensemble membership to local High School students and as a result, the combined personnel completed a cycle of four very successful performances––an accomplishment never before achieved at UTEP. After the completion of his course of study, Mr. Lawhorne was granted, with Honors, a Degree in Instrumental Conducting with emphasis in Musical Composition.
Upon completion of his Master’s degree, he accepted the position of Associate Director of Bands of Chapin High School in El Paso, Texas. Mr. Lawhorne currently is completing his third year “in the field.” During his tenure at Chapin he has helped bring the Chapin Band program significant success. For the first time in seven years the Chapin Marching Band competed in finals at a national level contest, and the second Jazz Band was awarded third place at one of the largest jazz contests in the region. Mr. Lawhorne’s direction of the Symphonic Band, comprised mostly of Freshmen, earned superior ratings for the first time in the Chapin Band history. Additionally, many of his students participate annually at the state Solo and Ensemble contest where most earn Superior ratings.
Beyond his teachings responsibilities at Chapin High School, Mr. Lawhorne continues to perform professionally as a member of the El Paso Wind Symphony. Chris also founded and currently serves as Executive Director of Sun City Independent, the only Winter Guard International Independent Percussion Ensemble within 300 miles of El Paso. The group is the current Winter Guard Arizona Champion in their division. Mr. Lawhorne guest conducted Reinhardt University at the Georgia Music Educators Association state convention and has conducted at numerous regional band clinics. He hopes soon to see the publication of his compositions as he wishes to share his talents with not only his Chapin High School students, but also with ensembles around the nation. Personal goals of his are to earn his Doctorate in Instrumental Conducting, serve as an adjudicator of concert and marching bands at a national level, and guest conduct concert ensembles across the nation.