The Clover High School band will be marching under the leadership of Rock Hill High band director Joe Gulledge beginning this fall. Gulledge is moving to Clover High after 18 years as band director in Rock Hill.
Gulledge, a National Board certified teacher, replaces Eric Wells, who has accepted a job at Blue Ridge High School in Greenville.
Wells, band director in Clover for 11 years, said he and his wife, Melanie, have a 6-month-old daughter, Reece, and wanted to move closer to her family in Greenville.
“It’s very difficult leaving Clover, but I understand that family comes first,” said Wells, the son of Larry Wells, retired director of the Northwestern High School band.
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“Obviously, Clover has been a very special part of my life,” Eric Wells said. “As a band director, I’ve really gotten my wings here. And I’ve grown up a lot as a person and a teacher. Clover has been, from the administration to the faculty to my fellow co-workers, nothing but supportive to me while I’ve been here.”
Wells also talked about his relationship with students.
“Of all the things I will miss about Clover, I will miss the students the most,” he said. “Day in and day out, they have pushed me to new heights and I cherish all of the memories made over the last 11 years.”
Gulledge said he is looking forward to a new opportunity in Clover. He said he didn’t want to leave York County.
“After 18 years in one place, it’s one of those opportunities that’s hard to pass up,” Gulledge said. “Clover is a great community that has a very strong tradition of band and athletics and of being very supportive of everything . . . I think there’s even more that’s possible.”
Gulledge said he sees advantages of being in a district with one high school.
“There’s definately an advantage to that,” he said. “Rock Hill has been super for my entire 18 years. It was a wonderful place. This is more about me wanting a new opportunity and going in a little different direction.”
Clover High Principal Mark Hopkins said he appreciates Wells’ leadership and direction over the past 11 years.
“Under his direction, the CHS band has earned a stellar reputation in our state and helped us to attract many candidates from several top band programs in the Southeast,” Hopkins said.
Hopkins added: “We wish Mr. Wells and his family our best as he moves on to Blue Ridge High School next year. I am sure he will continue to do great things there.”
As band director in Rock Hill, Gulledge coordinated all aspects of the high school band program including a 160-member marching band, three concert bands, jazz band, percussion ensemble, indoor drumline, two winter guards, and number small ensembles.
Hopkins said Gulledge “has experiences that are unmatched by most directors in South Carolina and across the Southeast region. He has had great success at the state, regional, and national levels, and we are confident he will bring continued growth and success to our band program.”
During his time in Rock Hill, the band program was consistently recognized as one of the premier programs in South Carolina and in the Southeast.
Gulledge is a 16-time recipient of the Outstanding Performance Award, given by the South Carolina Band Directors Association, and he is the president-elect of the state association.
Before his time at Rock Hill High, Gulledge spent three years at Central High School in Pageland. There, he directed the band program from sixth grade “beginning band” through high school. In his time at Central, enrollment in the total band program increased 200 percent.