Director of Bands, Lancaster High School
Mr. Benjamin E. Factor is currently in his eleventh year of teaching and fourth year as Director of Bands at Lancaster High School where he directs Symphonic Band, Freshman Band, and the Band of Gold. He also assists with the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth grade bands at both General Sherman and Thomas Ewing Junior High Schools. All bands under his direction have been rated Superior at both the local and state levels. This includes the first state Superior for the top concert band in over 20 years, and the first ever for the second concert band.
A native of Grove City, Ohio, he began his instrumental music instruction under the direction of Nancy Youse, Patrick Lewis, and George Edge.
Mr. Factor attended The Ohio State University graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Music Education in 2007. While at Ohio State, he performed with the Marching Band, Wind Symphony, Symphonic Band, Symphony Orchestra, and Trombone Choir, served as low brass instructor with the Dublin Jerome Marching Band, and taught private lessons throughout the Columbus area. Mr. Factor completed his student teaching experience in the Gahanna-Jefferson Schools with Jeff Shellhammer and Rob Cebriak.
Prior his appointment at Lancaster High School, Mr. Factor was the Director of Bands for seven years at Liberty Union-Thurston Local Schools in Baltimore, Ohio. In 2007, under his direction, the Liberty Union Marching Band qualified for State Marching Band Finals for the first time ever, and earned state level superior ratings every year thereafter. In 2008, his Concert Band earned a superior rating at State Finals for the first time in nearly fifty years, and continued to receive consistent superior ratings at district and state adjudicated events throughout his entire tenure with the band program.
Mr. Factor’s professional memberships include the National Association for Music Education, the Ohio Music Education Association, American School Band Directors Association, and Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society. He currently plays trombone with Heisey Wind Ensemble, Ohio Capital Winds, High Society Dixieland Band, and performs frequently with several local orchestras. Mr. Factor served as Chairperson for the 2012 OMEA All-State Jazz Band, Coordinator for the 2014 OMEA All-State Ensembles, State Treasurer for the OMEA Board of Trustees, and is currently an OMEA Marching Band Adjudicator. In addition, he has given clinics at the OMEA Professional Development Conference, the Ohio State University School of Music Student Leadership Intensive, Capital University’s Complete Band Director Workshop, and at the Marching Band Adjudicator’s Summer Session. Mr. Factor is the Director of Music at St. Mary’s Church in Bremen and currently lives in Baltimore, Ohio.
Director of Percussion
Director of Bands, Thomas Ewing Junior High School
Mr. Bruce Gerken has taught in the Lancaster City Schools since 1978, where he presently serves as Director of Bands at Thomas Ewing Junior High, Director of Percussion Studies, Percussion Ensemble Director, and Department Chair. He received his Bachelor of Music Education in 1977, and Master of Applied Percussion in 1978 from Ohio University where he studied with Guy Remonko.
His marching percussion sections have received over 130 superior ratings and awards and his percussion ensembles have been featured at the Ohio Music Education Association (OMEA) State Conference ten times; five Music Educators National Conferences (MENC) Regional Conferences; and at National Conferences of the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), MENC, and the North Central Association (NCA) of Colleges and Schools. They have performed for the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) in 1993 and 2001; National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) in 1997, 1999, 2004, and 2014; the Midwest Clinic in 1985, 1990, and 1999; the Kiwanis International Convention in 1996; the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina in 2007 and 2009; the Rotary International Convention in New Orleans in 2011; and the Lancaster Festival from 1996 through 2015. In May of 1995, the ensemble members were guests of educational, community and government officials from the Orenburg Region of Russia where they gave several concerts during a nine-day tour that helped celebrate the 50th Anniversary of V-E Day.
In 1989, Mr. Gerken received the American School Band Director’s Association (ASBDA) Stanbury Award for Ohio in the Senior High Division, and in 1993 he received the Ohio University School of Music Society of Alumni and Friends “Achievement in Music” Award. He was also named Central Ohio “Teacher of the Month” in May 1995, and has been nominated nine times for inclusion in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.
In addition to his teaching duties, he is active as an adjudicator, clinician, arranger, and performer, and is presently an educational consultant for Pro Mark. Mr. Gerken’s Professional affiliations include OMEA, NAfME, Percussive Arts Society (PAS), Kappa Kappa Psi, Phi Mu Alpha, Kappa Delta Pi, Pi Kappa Lambda and the American Federation Musicians Local No. 179.
Director of Bands, General Sherman Junior High School
Mr. David Bode has taught instrumental music in the Lancaster City Schools since 1996. While in Lancaster he has served as the Director of Bands at Lancaster High School, the former Stanbery Freshman School, and is currently the band director at General Sherman Junior High School. Prior to coming to Lancaster, Mr. Bode taught at Bishop Ready High School and at the Amanda Clearcreek Local Schools. In addition to his duties at General Sherman Junior High School, he also teaches elementary brass, assists at Thomas Ewing Junior High School with the sixth grade band, assists with the high school Freshman and Symphonic bands, and is an assistant director with the Lancaster High School Band of Gold.
Mr. Bode holds a Bachelor of Music Education from The Ohio State University, where he performed with the Concert Band, Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Commencement Band, and Trombone Ensemble. Mr. Bode also completed a Master of Arts degree in music education in the fall of 2001 at The Ohio State University in which he graduated Magna Cum Laude. While working on both degrees at Ohio State, Mr. Bode studied trombone with Joseph Duchi (Professor of Trombone at Ohio State and bass trombonist with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra).
Mr. Bode is professionally affiliated with the Ohio Music Education Association, Music Educators National Conference, the International Trombone Association, and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. In addition, Mr. Bode is also a member of the National Education Association, Ohio Education Association, and the Lancaster Education Association.
Mr. Bode’s bands from past teaching positions have performed in Chicago, Virginia Beach, and Toronto. While in Lancaster, Mr. Bode’s freshman and high school ensembles have performed under the direction of David Shaffer, Bruce Moss, James Swearingen, James Curnow, and Robert W. Smith. These ensembles have also performed with The Ohio State University Trombone Ensemble. The former Stanbery Freshman ensembles also performed at the Music Showcase Festivals in Sandusky, Ohio, earning top ratings and rankings. His former Stanbery jazz ensembles have also performed at the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. Mr. Bode’s junior high bands have participated in solo and ensemble events and large group events earning excellent and superior ratings.
Mr. Bode continues to play trombone in the area, gives private instruction on low brass instruments, has had the privilege of playing in the Worthington Civic Band, and has performed a couple of times with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and the Ohio Valley Orchestra. He has also served as a clinician in the area of trombone and music education. Mr. Bode is also an active marching band adjudicator for the Ohio Music Education Association, has served as a solo and ensemble adjudicator, and is a former co-director for the Lancaster Festival Community Youth Summer Band Program. Mr. Bode was also nominated and appears in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.
Mr. Bode is married to Launa and has a son named Collin and a daughter named Madison. Outside of music and teaching, Mr. Bode enjoys spending time with his family, time in the outdoors, boating, and fly-fishing.
Associate Director of Bands, Lancaster High School
Director of Swinging Gales and Pep Band
Mr. Jared Smith is in his fifth year as the Associate Director of Bands at Lancaster High School and is a graduate of Ohio University where he obtained his Bachelor Degree in Music Education. At the high school, Mr. Smith directs the Swinging Gales and Pep Band, and assists with Symphonic Band, Freshman Band, and the Band of Gold. He also assists at Thomas Ewing and General Sherman Junior High Schools as woodwind specialist, and teaches beginning woodwind classes.
Mr. Smith has had many performance opportunities as a member of the Marching 110 and of the Ohio University Wind Symphony. As a member of the Ohio University Wind Symphony, Mr. Smith participated as a performer in the professional recording of a CD titled “Mothership”. He also recorded a solo clarinet recital featuring pieces by Bella Kovacs, Saint-Saint, Cursell, Gershwin, and Gioacchino Rossini. Mr. Smith is an active member of the Ohio Music Education Association and the National Association for Music Education.
Outside of music, Mr. Smith’s hobbies include gardening, swing dancing, and enjoying the company of loved ones. Speaking of loved ones, Mr. Smith has been married to his better side for two years. They met in Athens at Ohio University and currently reside in Lancaster.
Administrative Coordinator of the Band of Gold
Miss Cassandra Bull is in her ninth year teaching in the Lancaster City Schools. She works as a general music educator at General Sherman and Thomas Ewing Junior High Schools. During the second semester she teaches fifth grade beginning woodwinds at all elementary schools and helps out with the high school band program.
Miss Bull received her Bachelor of Music Education in May 2009 from Ashland University and is currently pursuing training to become a Board Certified Music Therapist through St. Mary-of-the-Woods College.
Color Guard Instructor
Mrs. Debbie Voight serves as the Color Guard Instructor for her fourth season with the Lancaster High School Band of Gold. She studies at Ohio University where she is majoring in Middle Childhood Education with concentration in Language Arts and Mathematics. She has also substituted for the Lancaster City Schools for over seven years. At her church, Mrs. Voight is the Youth Ministries Director and leads Sunday School, organizes and teaches at Youth Group, and coordinates youth mission trips. She graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1995, and has her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a specialization in Finance.
Mrs. Voight graduated from Midview High School in Grafton, Ohio, in 1991, where she played the alto saxophone for seven years. She also was a member of her high school color guard for three years and was captain her senior year. During this time, she traveled with the Band to the national parade in Washington D.C., and performed in numerous parade of band shows.
Mrs. Voight grew up in Elyria, Ohio, and moved to Lancaster in May of 2006. She married her high school sweetheart, Greg, over 20 years ago and they have three incredible children: Christopher, Katie, and Simon.