Directing a New Era

Fine Arts Department sees rotation of fresh staff


Cooper Cannon

New Choir Director Daryl Freeman absorbs the chances to influence his choir both as an ensemble and as a family. “I speak to everybody, so if you see me in the hallway I will speak to you – I won’t just walk past anybody without speaking,” Freeman said.

With the introduction of fresh faces to the fine arts scene this year comes an opportunity to learn about the new directors and staff.

This year, the Band, Choir, and Theater Department brings new members to the faculty.

“This is my 26th year teaching. As long as I can remember, this is all I’ve ever wanted to do since I was in high school,” Head Band Director Joe Nuñez said. “When I was in high school, Mr. Clearwater, who I am replacing, was one of my high school band directors. I just thought he had the greatest job, and I wanted to be like him.”

With the retirements and new transitions, three new directors join the staff.

“Meeting me for the first time can be something that makes people nervous, but I’m easy going,” Nuñez said. “I like to talk about dogs, and I have two dogs, one pug and one chiweenie-half doxie.”

Nuñez is open to speaking to any student given the chance to be down to Earth and casual when getting to know them.

“I would like to really pick up where the program has left off most recently having made it to the state marching contest and to make it back as a finalist, not only for BOA Houston but for BOA San Antonio,” Nuñez said. “For concert, I would like to record and earn an invitation to the Midwest Convention in Chicago, but I am excited to be here and with these students, and I’m excited to work with this staff.”

Jesus Burciaga joins alongside Nuñez as the assistant band director.

“I’m not from the Houston area; I moved from El Paso in July, literally the day before band camp started,” Burciaga said. “I have been part of teaching staffs, but this is my first paid teaching job.”

Music was not always Burciaga’s future look but enthusiastically undertook his opportunities.

“I wanted to be an engineer first, but in the last two months of high school I thought, ‘I don’t want to be an engineer, that’s kind of boring to me,’ so I switched to music,” Burciaga said. “My high school band director and my college director helped me get to where I am.”

Burciaga credits his influences in aid to changing his outlook.

“My high school band director was super cool and inspiring, and he always believed in us – not just in the band class but as people in general, so I like to think that way now,” Burciaga said. “My students are more than just band people, they’re human beings that need to be guided and mentored through life, so I want to be a teacher that could apply mentorship to younger people

Although it is Burciaga’s first year, he is determined to make an impression on his students.

“One goal I have this year is to make every student that comes through the band hall doors enjoy this class and feel safe in this shared space,” Burciaga said. “If they are intimidated by me, I’ll just talk to them; I’m not scary.”

Alongside Burciaga, Blake Stanfield joins the crew as the new percussion director.

“I’m very passionate about percussion,” Stanfield said. “My fondest memories were from band, so I just wanted to continue doing that and help students share similar memories.”

Stanfield solely directs the percussion section, but also gets to his part in being introduced to the whole band.

“I have a standoffish demeanor, but I don’t mean to. I’m actually really nice, and I’d be happy to talk to new people,” Stanfield said. “Usually I’m business-oriented, and my thinking face doesn’t look inviting, but I’m always excited to talk to people given the opportunity.”

Taking the new head in Choir is Daryl Freeman.

“I was all in choir and band all through high school, and I did a year of band in college and then choir the rest of the time,” Head Choir Director Daryl Freeman said. “I got at [Klein Oak] and did choir ever since musical directing at the different schools that I’ve taught at.”

 Freeman remembers his beginnings in music and the birth of his determination.

“I played the trumpet; I was first chair trumpet since 7th grade year, and was an all-stater Louisiana for trumpet,” Freeman said. “I was first chair for two years and the last year I got 2nd chair, so I quit.”

With his long experience of a musical career, Freeman wholeheartedly understands his determination in relation to his goals and getting the chance to meet new students.

“I think I’m an approachable person. People tell me that I get that from my dad because he was always smiling wherever he went,” Freeman said. “The kids I scare know I’m a big soft teddy bear, so they’re not scared.

As the school year makes it through the first month, Freeman has been given the chance to learn about his students one at a time.

“One of the students was like, ‘Goodbye Mr. Freeman, have a good weekend,’ and I felt like I had somebody,” Freeman said. “My goal is to sustain the reputation of the Klein Oak choir and make a difference in the students’ lives by bringing them closer to music.”

Freeman now takes his part of organizing the program.

“I want to give a shoutout to my co-director, Heather Leal, because she has completely run this program for the past years that she has been here,” Freeman said. “I am here to help her out and take the load off of her, and she deserves that.”

In the Theater Department, a new director has taken the lead coming from Krimmel Intermediate.

“I teach the production classes which are the kids that want to be in the production, either cast or crew, and I teach Theater Management and Theater 3 and 4, “Head Director Darchel Chesser said.

Chesser is one of the three directors in the Theater Department, sharing her part in directing and teaching theater.

“When I was real little, I just loved to perform. My mom said that I was always singing and dancing,” Chesser said. “People would say, ‘You should be in theater, you should be on the stage,’ and my choir teacher was the one who told me to be on the stage.”

Chesser admits to being a theatrical and dramatic person since childhood. 

“I was in the productions, especially the musicals, every year,” Chesser said. “That’s how I fell in love with it, so I majored in theater at the University of Houston and then worked professionally in theater for 10 years before I went on to teach that.”

Before beginning to teach, Chesser took part in national and even international theater programs to prepare her for her theatrical career.

“I met my husband when I was about to move to New York and he at the time didn’t want to move, so I just started working different jobs and one of them was the private elementary school,” Chesser said. “They wanted me to start a drama department, so I started with that and kind of liked it, so I interviewed and got a middle school position. It was really kind of an accident, a happy mistake.”

After falling into theatrical school middle positions, she now reunites with former students.

“It’s so rewarding to see somebody that didn’t necessarily have the knowledge for theater and now seeing them mentor and teach the younger students is so rewarding as a teacher,” Chesser said. “To see what they’ve taken, that little idea about theater, and learned so much more, and now they’re sharing their love for theater. It’s very rewarding, and I love that part.”