Paul A Russell began his musical career as a youth, while attending Brewer High School, Greenwood, SC. His band direct was the late Thomas Bacote. After graduation, he attended Clafin College in SC and majored in music education. He did further studies at Columbia University in NY, Vandercook College of Music in Chicago, and The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Upon completion of his studies, he was hired to teach under his baton at Washington Drive Junior High School, Fayetteville, NC, and would go on to study and play music at E.E. Smith.
He would be selected to replace the late Willie Currie by the late E.E. Miller, Principal. When Mr. Russell became band director, Principal Miller continued to embrace the philosophies and teaching of Dr. E.E. Smith, for whom the school is named. Those philosophies were evident in all aspects of the music program.
Paul A. Russell was "The Man" behind the cultivation and development of the Instrumental Music Department at Smith High for 36 years . He Stressed and instituted the precision, high stepping marching style. This tradition was continued from the Smith High bands of the late 30's and 40"s, as instituted by Willie Currie. The Marching Band of E.E. Smith High School has been entertaining audiences on the home field for more than 83 years. Mr. Russell made his dream a reality and coined the name, "The Magnificent Marching Machine," in 1982.
Under Mr. Russell's leadership, the Magnificent Marching Machine went on to perform at 9 National performances to showcase their unique style. Further, Mr. Russell rallied his band to performed for the Apple Blossom Festive in Winchester,VA. Of 65 bands from across the country, E.E. Smith ranked 9. Over the years, he established a legacy of pride and tradition. He passed the Golden Baton to E.E. Smith Alumnus, Roosevelt Pratt, '83, in 1996, thereby, "The Tradition Continues ..."
“Teaching instrumental music is my passion and it serves as the most fulfilling part of my career.” As the director of one of the most popular “showstyle” marching bands in North Carolina, Roosevelt knows that a student who can perform grade five and six concert band music is a well-rounded musician. “You’ve got to give them the tools to excel at the next level, and by challenging them in high school, they’ve found themselves at the top in university programs.”
Roosevelt shares the pride of a parent when he thinks about his 18-year career at E.E. Smith and 26 years total in the teaching field. He graduated from N.C. A&T State University in 1989 and went to work in Columbus, Ohio as an elementary orchestra and band teacher, followed by work in middle schools in Virginia Beach, VA, and Fort Washington, Maryland, then returning to his high school alma mater at the request of his high school band director, Paul A. Russell in 1996.
Roosevelt’s regional recognitions and affiliations:
Honorary Member of Kappa Kappa Psi Honorary Band Fraternity (NC A&T), 2013; Elected – Southeastern District North Carolina Band Directors’ Association Board Member-at-Large, 2013; Concert Band Superior Ratings at Maryland and N.C. State Festivals, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2002, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019 Symphonic/2019 Concert; Creator and Co-Founder, North Carolina Show Style Band Directors’ Association, 2008; Cumberland County Schools All-County Concert Band Clinician, 2006; Cumberland County Schools, District 8, and E.E. Smith High School Teacher of the Year, 2005; Fayetteville Observer Newspaper, Readers’ Choice Award – Best School Teacher, 2003 and 2005 and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.
He has been married since 1992 to his high school love, Constance and has two daughters, Kayla and Chelsea.