Avery Payne is currently in his seventh year of teaching and his fifth year as the Director of Bands at Millbrook High School in Raleigh, North Carolina. A 2016 Graduate of the University of South Carolina, Mr. Payne served as the Director of Bands and Orchestra at North Forsyth High School for two years prior to leading the Millbrook Band Program.
Since taking over in 2018, Mr. Payne has continued the strong legacy of the Millbrook band program, earning consistent Superior ratings at state adjudicated events with the Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, and Marching Band. Individual students at Millbrook have also excelled, earning placements in the All-District and All-State Honors Ensembles, the Central Region and All-State Jazz Bands and the North Carolina Governor’s School. During his time at North Forsyth, Mr. Payne led the Symphonic Band to its first Superior Rating in twelve years and placed students in the All-District band for the first time in five years.
At the conclusion of his sixth year of teaching, Mr. Payne was named the East Central District “Band Director of the Year” by his peers in Wake County. Mr. Payne has also been named a recipient of the ASBDA Ed Rooker Encore Award; an award designed to honor outstanding young band directors with less than seven years of experience. In 2017, Mr. Payne was chosen as the Forsyth Education Association’s High School Teacher of PROMISE. This award honors first year teachers who show promise, responsibility, optimism, motivation, ingenuity, sensitivity, and excellence.
Professionally Mr. Payne is a member of the National Association for Music Education, the North Carolina Music Educators Association, the North Carolina Bandmasters Association, and of Kappa Kappa Psi the National Honorary Band Fraternity. He has served as a district representative on the North Carolina Marching Band Committee since 2019 and is chair elect of the North Carolina Central Region Jazz Section. In his free time, Mr. Payne is an avid golfer and enjoys spending time with his partner Kelsey and their four pets, Aja, Rosie, Sadie, and Stewart.
Zack Marshall works in the Raleigh, NC area providing schools with music arrangements, original compositions, and percussion instruction. He received his degree in Music Theory and Composition from East Carolina University and has been writing and teaching music since 2006. Zack studied brass in high school and college but also performed percussion in marching band and drum corps. He has worked in multiple states and with programs all over North Carolina while currently maintaining a private studio of composition and percussion students as well as serving several Wake county bands. Outside work hours, Zack enjoys cooking, rock climbing, and a good game of chess. Zack currently resides in Wake Forest with his wife, two sons, and dog.
Nicole Wood is in her 2nd year teaching Chorus and Drama at Salem Middle School in Apex, NC after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2020. Since working at Salem, both the Chorus and Drama programs have doubled in size, and the school put on a production of Beauty and the Beast Jr. that sold out all 3 shows!
She has instructed color guard programs in Guilford and Wake County, most recently working with Millbrook HS beginning in Fall 2021. In the 2022 Winter Guard Season, Millbrook HS Winter Guard earned a bronze medal in the AIA Championships. In her teaching (both at Salem and Millbrook), Nicole emphasizes growth in self-confidence, self-advocacy, and student leadership, along with the necessary performing arts skills that accompany each activity.
Professionally, Nicole is a member of the National Association for Music Education, the North Carolina Music Educators Association, and the Atlantic Indoor Association. Outside of teaching, Nicole enjoys gardening, camping, and spending time with her partner, Ben, and her dogs, Ava and Noodle.