Director of Bands
Jerry Whorton was announced as the Director of Bands for Melissa Independent School District in March of 2016. He serves as the director of the Mighty Cardinal Marching Band and the Wind Ensemble.
Mr. Whorton was previously the Director of Fine Arts and Bands at Winona Independent School District in Winona, Texas. He comes from a family of educators, of which both of his parents are retired band directors in addition to his three siblings who are currently a middle school principal, middle school band director, and an early education teacher.
Having only ever earned 1st divisions at UIL competition, Mr. Whorton’s bands have received 8 consecutive years of UIL Sweepstakes awards. Under his direction, his programs have routinely increased in size as well as musicianship. Jerry’s students have consistently earned chairs in the all-region band, received first divisions at Region Solo & Ensemble competition, as well as advancing to Texas State Solo & Ensemble competition. His concert bands have won the TMEA Region and Area Honorband competitions as well as placing twice as a State Finalist in the TMEA State Honorband competition. In 2013 Mr. Whorton’s band placed 2nd in the ATSSB Outstanding Performance Series concert selection with their recording of “Summer Dances”.
Mr. Whorton is a 2006 graduate of Northwestern State University where he earned his Bachelors of Music Education. While at Northwestern, Mr. Whorton studied under William E. Brent, Dr. Kevin Richardson, Dr. Caroline Beatty, and Dr. J. Mark Thompson. While receiving his degree, he was the Head Drum Major for the 300-member “Spirit of Northwestern”, tenor trombonist of the wind ensemble and the principal bass trombonist of the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Orchestra.
Jerry and his wife, Alexandria, joined the Melissa Cardinal family in the early summer of 2016.
Director of Percussion Studies
Connor Pickle is a professional musician and educator living in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex. He currently serves as the Director of Percussion Studies for Melissa ISD in Melissa, TX. His responsibilities include percussion instruction of grades 6-12, directing the classical and marching percussion ensembles, team teaching the Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, and Concert Bands, as well as teaching Elementary General Music. During his time at Melissa ISD, the marching band has advanced to the UIL State Marching Contest and the Melissa Indoor Drumline was crowned champions of the North Texas Colorguard Association indoor percussion circuit. Before coming to Melissa, Connor was the Fall 2012 Intern for the Percussive Arts Society in Indianapolis, IN.
As a performer and clinician, Mr. Pickle maintains an active professional music career, performing and recording with a variety of musical acts and giving clinics throughout the country. He has performed at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, the Texas Music Educators Association Convention, and the Texas Bandmasters Association Convention. Connor played snare drum in the World Class WGI percussion ensemble, Surround Sound, and performed on drumset in the front ensemble with the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps.
Mr. Pickle earned a Bachelor of Science degree, Cum Laude, in Music Education and Percussion Performance studying with Dr. Brian Zator at Texas A&M University-Commerce. While a student, he performed with the Wind Ensemble, Pride Marching Band, Jazz Ensemble, Brazilian Ensemble, Panimation Steel Drum Band, and the award winning Percussion Ensemble.
Taylor Tucker grew up in Mesquite, Texas. She graduated from the University of North Texas in the honors college with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She spun in the Colorguard and Winterguard all four years at North Mesquite High School, and in her first year of college, she marched in the UNT Green Brigade Colorguard. She then marched the White Gold Independent A and Open, and Black Gold Independent World.
In 2015, Tucker performed with Colorguard Theatre Dallas, which made open class finals at the Winterguard International World Championships in its inaugural year. In 2016, she went on to march Cypress Independent Winterguard, this time making world class finals. Her drum corps experience includes marching with the Blue Stars drum and bugle corps in the summer of 2014.
While in college, Tucker was a tech for Lakeview Centennial High School from 2012-14. She then became the Head Colorguard Director at Naaman Forest High School from 2014-15.
Tucker completed her third year as the Head Colorguard Director at Sachse High School. In a span of two years, the Colorguard received Best Colorguard at marching competitions both years, and jumped from the Regional A division to the National A division at NTCA. Sachse also is a 2017 WGI Dallas and Austin regional finalist.
Tucker is excited to start growing the program at Melissa High School and Melissa Middle School.
Assistant High School Band Director
Dallas Bayless joined the Melissa ISD band staff in 2016 as Assistant High School Band Director. Mr. Bayless has 18 years of experience in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Most recently, he was the Director of Bands at Burkburnett HS and Director of Fine Arts for Burkburnett ISD. During his 9 years of service there, the Burkburnett HS band consistently earned Sweepstakes in UIL competition, and his marching bands received nothing but Superior ratings at UIL Marching Contest, regular UIL Area advancement, and various awards in the USBands circuit. Prior to his time in Burkburnett, Dallas taught bands in Wichita Falls ISD, McAllen ISD, Cache Public Schools (Oklahoma), and USD 428 (Great Bend, Kansas).
In addition to his public school teaching, Mr. Bayless enjoys working in the drum corps activity. He has served as a volunteer with Forte DBC, The Cadets, and Genesis DBC and has worked as a brass instructor with Forte and Genesis. Dallas is currently the program coordinator, brass arranger, and trumpet instructor with Genesis DBC of Austin, TX.
Dallas is an active composer and arranger specializing in concert band, marching band, and drum corps works and is published by TRN Music. His works have been performed at UIL Concert and Marching contests, on the USBands circuit, and on the Drum Corps International summer circuit. He is the wind arranger for the Lean Forward Marching Design team of North Carolina, and his works and services are available at leanforwardmarchingdesign.com.
Mr. Bayless holds a Master of Music degree with a focus on Music Theory/Composition from Pittsburg State University where he served as a graduate assistant for the band and orchestra programs. He earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Cameron University where he was awarded the McMahon and Presser Scholarships.
Dallas and his wife Jamie have been married for 22 years and are the proud parents of four children, all musicians, and one grandchild.
Middle School Band Director
Elizabeth Becker is beginning her fifth year of teaching. She currently serves as the Melissa Middle School Band Director. Previously, she spent three years as the associate director at McKinney High School. She is a 2012 graduate of Texas Tech University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude and received a Bachelor of Music Degree with teacher certification under the direction and guidance of Dr. Keith Dye. As a native of Plano, Texas, Ms. Becker attended Plano East Senior High and Clark High School.
During her time at Texas Tech, Ms. Becker marched four years in The Goin’ Band from Raiderland as well as worked as an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant for the band. She was also actively involved in many other ensembles including the Court Jesters Basketball Band, the Plainview Symphony, and the Texas Tech Symphonic Wind Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Sarah McKoin. In addition to these ensembles, she studied clarinet with Dr. David Shea and taught privately in Lubbock ISD.
Ms. Becker is a member of Texas Music Educators Association and serves on the staff for the Texas Tech Band and Orchestra Camp which takes place each summer.
Assistant Middle School Band Director
Aaron Dugger is currently the assistant director of bands at Melissa Middle School in Melissa, Texas. In addition to conducting the Symphonic Band and teaching beginner brass classes, he assists with the high school bands and the Mighty Cardinal Marching Band.
Mr. Dugger is a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University where he received his bachelor’s degree in Music Education and studied tuba under Professor Velvet Brown. While at Penn State, he performed with the university’s elite wind ensemble, conducted by Professor Dennis Glocke. He also performed with the Marching Blue Band, the Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble, and several chamber groups.
Mr. Dugger is a proud alumnus of the Bluecoats where he was a member of the contra line in 2013, 2014, and 2015. In 2014, he was named as one of the brass performers of the year. After aging-out, he went on to teach with the Academy Drum and Bugle Corps in their very successful 2016 season. Mr. Dugger is thrilled to be joining the Bluecoat’s brass staff for the 2017 season as a low brass technician.