Director of Bands and Percussion Specialist
Kevin Ownby is the Director of Bands and Percussion Specialist at Oak Mountain High School. Prior to becoming Director of Bands in 2012, he was the Associate Director of Bands and Percussion Specialist for 8 years. His responsibilities as Director of Bands include design and instruction of the marching band show, as well as conducting the Wind Ensemble, Jazz A, and Percussion Ensemble. All of these groups have consistently received superior ratings at various contests and festivals. In the fall of 2007, the Percussion Ensemble performed a showcase concert at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention. In 2016, the Oak Mountain Wind Ensemble was selected as a “Featured Ensemble” at the Music for All National Band Festival and will be performing at the Alabama Music Educators Association Conference in January 2017.
Mr. Ownby is a graduate of Austin High School in Decatur, AL. He graduated from Samford University with a Bachelors degree in Music Education and from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a Masters degree in Percussion Performance. Mr. Ownby is a member of the ABA, NAfME, and the Percussive Arts Society. He has also served as Principal Timpanist for the Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra and Percussionist for Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra.
Mr. Ownby began his mentorship under Jim Duren, founding director of Oak Mountain High School Bands, in 1997 when he provided percussion instruction for the Pelham High School Marching Band. He is blessed to have Mr. Duren in his life as a mentor and close friend.
Mr. Ownby and his wife Laura met in middle school band. They have four daughters: Kayla Ellen, twins Leigha Claire and Kara Elise, and Livia Beckett. They are active members of Hunter Street Baptist Church and feel as though God has called their family to the mission and ministry of education.
Associate Director of Bands
Mr. Travis Bender is Associate Director of Bands at Oak Mountain High School. Prior to joining the OMHS faculty, he served as Director of Bands at Liberty Park Middle School, where he was named “Teacher of the Year” in 2011. His duties at OMHS include teaching the Symphonic Band, Jazz Band B, Marching Band, Chamber Music, and Band Technique.
Mr. Bender is a graduate of the University of Alabama, where he received his Bachelors and Masters degrees in music education. While attending UA, he served as a drum major of the “Million Dollar Band” and as conductor of The Tuscaloosa Winds, a community band for the western Alabama region. In addition to his conducting capacities, Mr. Bender also performed extensively as the pianist for the Alabama Wind Ensemble for six years and as trombonist for the Symphonic Band and various pep bands. His professional affiliations include NAfME, ABA, NBA, and the music honorary, Pi Kappa Lambda.
Under his leadership, Mr. Bender’s bands have received only superior ratings at contests or festivals. In January 2012, his Symphonic Band was invited to perform at the Alabama Music Educators’ Conference in Montgomery.
In addition to music instruction, Mr. Bender has a strong interest in student and teacher leadership. In 2015, he was appointed as the chair of the Fine Arts department at Oak Mountain High School. He recently completed a second Masters and Educational Specialist degrees in Educational Leadership from Samford University, and is currently completing his doctorate in the same field.
Besides teaching, Mr. Bender is also interested in technology, home improvement projects, and pinball machines. He currently resides in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife, Krista, an assistant principal in the Vestavia Hills City School system. They have one daughter, Madison, a lovable Sheltie named Haley, and a lazy cat named Prince.
Director of Bands Emeritus
Mr. Jim Duren was the Director of Bands at Oak Mountain High School from its opening in the fall of 1999 through the end of the 2011-2012 school year. He is thrilled to be returning to the Oak Mountain Band staff for the 2015-2016 school year.
Prior to coming to Oak Mountain, Mr. Duren was Director of Bands at Mountain Brook Jr. High (1973-1978), Mountain Brook High School (1978-1987) and then Pelham High School (1987 – 1999).
During his 39 year career, Mr. Duren’s bands have performed throughout the southeastern and midwestern united states, The Bahamas, Toronto Canada and two performances at Carnegie Hall in New York.
Mr. Duren is a graduate of Gordo High School in Pickens County. He received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama. While at the University, he was a member and student conductor of the “Million Dollar Band,” Principal Trombonist in the Symphonic Band, Bass Trombonist with the Brass Ensemble, Trombone Choir, University Symphony Orchestra, and the Jazz Ensemble.
Mr. Duren is a member of the Alabama Music Educators Hall of Fame, Alabama Bandmasters Association (ABA), National Association for Music Education (NAfME), National Band Association, and Phi Beta Mu. In 1996 he was awarded the “John Philip Sousa Legion of Honor Award.” In 1999 he was named “Honorary Conductor” of the University of Alabama Wind Ensemble and in 2011 was awarded the “Outstanding Band Director or the Year” award for the state of Alabama by the Rho chapter of Phi Beta Mu Band Director’s fraternity as well as being named “Outstanding Alumni” at the University of Alabama in 2011. He is a 2015 inductee into the Alabama Music Educators Hall of Fame.
Director of Middle School Bands
Heather Holmes joined the Oak Mountain Middle School staff in 2006 as assistant band and choir director. In 2012, Mrs. Holmes was appointed Director of Bands for Oak Mountain Middle School. Mrs. Holmes teaches the Advanced Symphonic Band, Concert Band, Jazz Band, and Beginning Band. Prior to coming to OMMS, Mrs. Holmes taught at Brooks High School for 5 years, where she was responsible for Beginner Band, Concert Band, Marching Band, and Jazz Band. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Music Education from the University of Alabama in 2001. While at Alabama, Mrs. Holmes played trombone in the Million Dollar Band and the Alabama Wind Ensemble. She served on the Million Dollar Band “Band Staff” for two years and was trombone section leader her senior year.
Her bands have consistently been recognized for superior ratings at the state and national level. In May 2012, the Oak Mountain Middle School band was awarded the Best Overall Concert Band and the Esprit De Corps award at the Music in the Parks Festival in Tampa, FL. Her professional affiliations include Alabama Music Educators Association, Alabama Bandmasters Association, NAfME (formerly MENC), and Sigma Alpha Iota.
Aside from teaching at OMMS, Mrs. Holmes leads the Children’s Choir at First Baptist Church in Pelham and sings in the Celebration Choir. Mrs. Holmes resides in Pelham with her husband Jason, daughter Ella, and Sousa, the wonder cat. She is an avid coffee drinker and loves sugary snacks.