BY SUSANA MARTINEZ
As the 2017-2018 school year rolls around, one teacher is more than prepared to tackle the challenges of a classroom. Holtville Middle School’s music teacher Lendal Macon will be celebrating his 47th year teaching and, despite his decades long career, he is still enthusiastic about passing along his knowledge to burgeoning musicians.
Originally a Tennessee native, Macon moved to Holtville in the second half of his sophomore year of high school. Since then, he has deeply entrenched his roots in the Imperial Valley. His extensive musical career began in the 4th grade. His local high school’s marching band was in need of a drummer and Macon was asked to perform alongside his elder peers. By the time he reached the 5th grade, he knew that he wanted to be a band director.
By 1971 that dream became a reality and Macon began teaching music at Heber Elementary School for three years as a non credential teacher. Since then he also taught at the Imperial School District for another two years before ultimately settling in at Holtville High School for 33 years. Music wasn’t his only subject during his stay at the high school. For 23 years at Holtville High School, Macon taught World History while also juggling the demands that came with being a band director. He also had a hand in teaching drama and remedial reading.
Macon’s tenure at Holtville High School brought incredible success to the band that he once led. In 1986, under Macon’s direction, the Holtville Band of Pride played for then U.S. President Ronald Reagan. The band had also won the Brawley Cattle Call’s “Perpetual Sweepstakes Trophy” and continues to be the only band in the Valley to have done so. In 2007 he was inducted in the Green and Gold Hall of Fame and in 2008 he had the honor of being the Grand Marshall in the town’s Carrot Parade. His years of success and prominence culminated in his retirement in 2009. The school honored Macon by having his portrait painted on the outside of the band room as well as giving him a lifetime free pass to high school sporting events, a ticket to see The Jersey Boys, and a trip to Las Vegas. At his final football game, Macon also received an offer to work part-time as the band director at Holtville Middle School, a position which has since become full-time.
Macon’s longstanding career in music seems to be something of a familial trait. Macon is related to Tennessee’s Uncle Dave Macon, a country music singer who became the first star of the Grand Ole Opry, the Carnegie Hall of country music. Macon also has an array of cousins who are also involved with music. For Macon, music runs through his blood.
The familial musicality transfers over into Macon’s passion for teaching. The important thing for him is to give back to the students what he had been taught when he was their age and to encourage them to give it 110 percent. Seeing smiles on his students faces after the perform or seeing them enjoy the music they are learning is a rewarding experience for him.
Teaching is not without its stresses since, as Macon says, it’s not truly a part-time affair. There’s the before and after school practices, the field show performances, and the competitions that take place beyond school hours. However, this has never deterred Macon from doing his job to the best of his ability. He accredits this to his father who told him “If you have a job to do, you do it right or don’t do it at all.” He works hard for the sake of his students, wanting to see them succeed in life and encouraging them to do more music as they grow older. It’s always a treat when former students return to his classroom to tell him how much they’ve enjoyed learning music.
Macon’s enthusiasm about music and passing on his knowledge has never wavered and as he entering his 47th year of teaching, he still maintains a sunny disposition and is excited for the upcoming year.