Dr. Brian D. Nichols, a clarinetist, is now in his 13th year at Smitha Middle School and his 29th year as a music educator.  Prior to his appointment at Smitha Middle School, Dr. Nichols served for 15 years in the Orange County (Florida) Public School system, most recently as the Director of Bands at Freedom High School in Orlando.  He also served the band programs at Dr. Phillips High School, Westridge Middle School and Hunter’s Creek Middle School.  Before joining the Orange County Schools, Dr. Nichols led the band program at New Smyrna Beach Middle School in Volusia County, Florida.  Dr. Nichols has served as a District Secretary for the Florida Bandmasters Association and as the District Coordinator for the OCPS Middle School Honor Band and the Middle School Jazz Band.  Dr. Nichols has also served as a clinician for bands in Florida and Georgia.  He has presented guest lectures in music education at the University of Central Florida.  In 2003, the Wind Ensemble from Hunter's Creek performed at the Florida Music Educators Association Clinic and Conference in Tampa.

In 2000, the Florida Music Educators Association identified Dr. Nichols as an Emerging Leader in Music Education.  While at Hunter’s Creek Middle School, he was selected as the 1998 Teacher of the Year, nominated for the Disney American Teacher Award and was selected as an Outstanding Young American for 1998. 

Dr. Nichols holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education from theUniversity of Central Florida in Orlando, a Master of Music degree in Wind/Band Conducting from the University of South Florida in Tampa, and an Doctor of Education degree in Teacher Leader for Learning: Instructional Technology from Kennesaw State University.  He is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, National Leadership Honor Society; an honorary member of Tau Beta Sigma, National Band Sorority; a member of The National Association for Music Education and the Georgia Music Educators Association.


Laura Estes, a pianist, is in her 8th year as the Associate Band Director at Smitha Middle School and her 35th year as a music educator.  Prior to her appointment at Smitha Middle School, Mrs. Estes served the Cobb County School District for 10 years at both Mabry and Daniell Middle Schools. Before that, she was the Director of Bands at Columbus High School in Muscogee County (GA) and has taught in Florida, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania as well as Georgia. 

Bands under Mrs. Estes’ direction at both the middle and high school levels have been selected to perform at Troy State University (AL), the University of Georgia, and Susquehanna University (PA), and she has been awarded the National Band Director’s Association “Citation of Excellence.”  Mrs. Estes has been active as a clinician and adjudicator, and most recently was a featured guest speaker at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. Through the years, students in Mrs. Estes’ band programs have excelled at both the district and state levels while earning consistent Superior ratings at Performance Evaluation. She was pleased and proud to find out recently that one of her clarinet students is in the United States Navy Band based in Washington, D.C. – the band that performs for the President!

A Florida native, Mrs. Estes holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Florida State University and a Master in Music Education from Georgia State University. Mrs. Estes is married to trombonist Gil Estes and is very proud of their five children, the youngest of which is a copy editor/page designer for the Charleston Post and Courier newspaper and played the clarinet in high school. One son is serving as a trombonist in the U.S. Army Band stationed in San Antonio and another son marched Spirit of Atlanta Drum and Bugle Corps for two years and is currently a Mississippi band director. One daughter is a high school orchestra director in Florida, and the oldest daughter was her high school’s drum major and also marched Spirit of Atlanta for two years. 

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