Congratulations to our Directors of the Year and Volunteer of the Year!

WGAZ is excited to announce the winner of its Director of The Year Award and Volunteer of the Year Award! We asked our community, including staff, parents and students to nominate current WGAZ directors and volunteer who made an impact on their lives, inspired growth within their students, and goes above and beyond their duties as a program director.

Kyle Edwards - Color Guard Director of the Year

Kyle Edwards is the director of the color guard programs at Combs High School where winter guard had not existed for over 5 years. Kyle took the initiative to not only recruit, teach, and design for their first season in years, but he also worked with his students on an outreach program to find funding and quality staff for the program. In addition to being the director of the program at Combs, Kyle is also the co-director at Mountain View HS, and on staff for FeniX Independent A and FeniX Independent World. Kyle is the type of person that doesn’t just get it done, but he finds a way to always be teaching his students in the process and involves them in each step. In just the first two seasons of establishing the winter guard at Combs, he has grown the program by 50%. Kyle is described by his band director as an “indispensable asset to Combs” and that certainly shines through in his programs and performers. He is truly one of the most passionate and hard-working individuals you will ever meet, and his first priority is always his students’ experience. Kyle received student testimonials from all 4 color guards that he is working this winter, here are some of the things his students had to say.

“Kyle’s information is always so helpful, and I often pass it down to my own students. I can always count on him to help me fix my tosses or get a better understanding on how to move forward.”

“Working with Kyle has been one of the highlights of my high school career.”

“Kyle being my instructor throughout high school has made my experience at Combs so great. He gave me a space to come to where I could bond with my friends and have a creative and active outlet. He passed his perseverance and his attitude of “try and you will succeed” that inspired me to not only do well in guard but in the rest of my schoolwork as-well”

“I’ve truly never had a staff member who cares so much about his students and is so motivated to help students”

“Kyle has a very deep and true understanding of Color Guard and has the incredible ability to share his knowledge and advice to any level of performer in a way they can personally understand. Further, Kyle is widely respected among his students for his friendly and hard-working demeanor, always showing up to every rehearsal willing to give his best effort no matter how exhausted he may be. I truly have never seen an educator so passionately committed to teaching and developing their students”

Kyle Edwards passion and dedication to his students is what makes him the 2022 WGAZ Colorguard Director of the Year.

Michael Hancock-Percussion/Winds Director of the Year

Michael Hancock has been a dedicated supporter of the marching arts in Arizona for over a decade. In his 17 years as a director Michael has helped lead jr. high indoor groups at multiple schools to success. For 7 year now, Mr. Hancock has been an admired and valuable member of the San Tan teaching staff, teaching all levels of band, drumline, and guitar. Michael excels in establishing and maintaining a positive learning environment and is widely respected and liked by the students, staff, faculty and parents and San Tan Junior High. In the short two years that Michael has with students, he challenges his students to be the best they can be. He inspires them to take their love of music and performance with them to high school, and his biggest priority is always the student experience. Mr. Hancock provides his students with many opportunities inside and outside of the classroom to learn and grow, and is always willing to put in the extra time to give his students another chance to perform. This is what makes Michael Hancock the 2022 WGAZ Percussion Director of the Year.

Chris Panneton - Volunteer of the Year

Dubbed lovingly as “Band Dad” by the students at Verrado High School, Chris goes above and beyond for his group ALL OF THE TIME! Chris drives the equipment truck, leads the parents group through major fundraiser projects, and currently serves as the President of the Booster Program. As the President, Chris was able to update the financial system and his professionalism has rallied parents to join the Booster program, Chris is truly responsible for the growth and organization of the Verrado Band Boosters. Hosting a WGI Regional and WGAZ Championships is no small task for any booster program. Chris was able to handle these tasks with grace. His knowledge, communication, and commitment is the reason the WGI regional at Verrado High School was successful, and why Championships this weekend will be the same. Chris is always willing to jump in and help, and is always willing to adapt and problem solve when things go wrong. Band Director, Tracy Meldrum says “Anything he touches pretty much turns to gold. I can’t say enough wonderful things about this “jack of all trades.” Chris is truly deserving of being the 2022 WGAZ Volunteer of the Year.