A! Magazine for the Arts

John Battle band director chosen as Yale Distinguished Music Educator

June 26, 2013

John Battle Band Director Mark Collins is among those selected to receive the 2013 Yale Distinguished Music Educator Award.

This award is presented biennially to 50 music educators selected for their outstanding accomplishments teaching music in the nation's public schools. Collins, who earned his master of education degree from Milligan, is the director of bands at John S. Battle High School in Bristol, Va. He was selected for the award from a pool of nearly 300 nominees representing 45 states.

Collins has worked in public education for 27 years, and this recognition is a culmination of a career spent sharing his passion for music.

"Music is the vehicle I use to create opportunities for students," Collins said. "Some of my students have become professional musicians. But for the rest of them, music still is something they can enjoy throughout their lives, no matter what they do."

Collins discovered his own interest in music when he started playing the drums at 3 years of age and later took up the piano at age 8.

"But I wanted to be a doctor, and it wasn't until I was a junior in high school that I realized I was teaching my peers at rural schools how to play music and that was what I loved to do," Collins said.

After earning a bachelor of science degree in music education from Tennessee Tech University in 1986, Collins taught music in the Nashville for five years. During that time, the concert bands and marching bands he directed earned state and national accolades.

He came to John Battle High School in 1991. Under Collins' leadership, John S. Battle High School Band and Wallace Middle School Bands have established a national reputation of musical achievement and accomplishment. Collins' students have earned coveted spots in the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band and the 2012 Macy's Great American Honor Marching Band.