Whatever is being said about former Unicoi County High School Band Director Brad Williams these days, it’s undeniable that he has had a lasting – and, it would seem, positive – influence on many students.
Williams is facing a theft charge from, state auditors say, the inappropriate use of a band boosters’ credit card. A state official has called Williams’ actions “unconscionable” and “a blatant abuse” of the trust between students and parents.
Last week, The Erwin Record spoke to five band members who, despite acknowledging the potential wrong doing by Williams, were insistent that their former leader deserves forgiveness. He was, they said, a “friend,” a “father figure,” a mentor, a “really sweet person.”
In the wake of the allegations against Williams, including the revelation that the director had “forgotten” $3,900 in cash from an Apple Festival fundraiser in his closet for eight months, it would be easy for these students to be mad, deflated and even cynical. So what makes them just the opposite?
It’s clear that their positive outlook stems not from inexperience but, rather, a positive experience that Williams, throughout his career, obviously provided for his young students and musicians. Now that his career at UCHS is over (Williams was first placed on unpaid leave before he opted to resign), his students are left to ponder what’s right and what’s wrong. That forgiveness can be found somewhere in the middle is a lesson Williams may have taught, in word and/or by actions, many times to those very students.
Good teachers also want to impart long-lasting life lessons to their students. It is doubtful, however, that the events of recent weeks is how Williams would have wanted to demonstrate to his students that actions have consequences. That makes all of what has happened even more sad.