Mr. Benjamin E. Factor is currently in his sixteenth year of teaching and ninth year as Director of Bands at Lancaster High School where he directs Symphonic Band, Concert Band, Freshman Band, Swinging Gales, Pep 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, including the school’s 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 to 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. The band also received fourteen consecutive “1st Place” awards, a streak spanning five seasons. 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 Phi Beta Mu International Bandmasters Fraternity, American School Band Directors Association, National Association for Music Education, the Ohio Music Education Association, and Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society. In 2022, he was awarded the Music Education Roll of Distinction Award by the Ohio State University School of Music.
Mr. Factor served as Chairperson for the 2012 OMEA All-State Jazz Band, Co-Chair of the 2014 OMEA All-State Ensembles, State Treasurer for the OMEA Board of Trustees (2014-2016), OMEA Strategic Plan Chair (2016-present), and is 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 plays trombone with Heisey Wind Ensemble. He is the Director of Music at St. Mary’s Church in Bremen and currently lives in Baltimore, Ohio.
Mr. Bruce Gerken has taught in the Lancaster City Schools since 1978, where he presently serves as 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 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.
Mr. David Bode has been teaching instrumental music since 1992 and 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.
Mr. Bode is a graduate of The Ohio State University in which he has earned both a Bachelor of Music Education and a Master of Arts degree in music education. He is also professionally affiliated with NAFME, OMEA, NEA, and LEA. Mr. Bode also serves as a marching band adjudicator for the Ohio Music Education Association.
Mr. Bode’s bands from past teaching positions have performed in Chicago, Virginia Beach, and Toronto. The former Stanbery Jazz Bands, under Mr. Bode’s direction, performed at Cleveland’s Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. The freshman and high school ensembles, under Mr. Bode’s direction, performed under the direction of world renowned composers; David Shaffer, James Swearingen, James Curnow, and Robert W. Smith. All of Mr. Bode’s large ensembles and small group ensembles that he has directed have had a tradition of earning top ratings / rankings at adjudicated events.
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, church family, and the outdoors.
Mr. Jared Smith is in his tenth year of teaching. Mr. Smith is a graduate of Ohio University where he obtained his Bachelor Degree in Music Education. He began his career as the Associate Director of Bands at Lancaster High School for five years. Mr. Smith currently serves as the band director at Thomas Ewing Junior High School. At Thomas Ewing, Mr. Smith directs the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade bands. In addition to his responsibilities at the Thomas Ewing, Mr. Smith also assists at General Sherman Junior High School and Lancaster High School working primarily with woodwind students.
Mr. Smith has had many performance opportunities as a member of the Marching 110 and of the Ohio University Wind Symphony playing his clarinet. 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 continues to enjoy playing jazz and big band era music.
Outside of music, Mr. Smith’s hobbies include gardening, swing dancing, and enjoying the company of loved ones, especially his college sweetheart. Mr. Smith and his wife currently reside in Lancaster.