The band plays on
Published 10:06 pm Wednesday, May 17, 2006
By By LYDIA GRIMES – Features writer
Haag retires after 24 years
It's not often someone works his whole career in one place, but Russell Haag has.
In spring 1982, Haag - best known as “Russ” was looking for a job. He had graduated from the University of West Florida the previous December. The middle of the school year is usually a bad time to go looking for work as a teacher, as most jobs are already taken.
But luck was with Haag. He found a home with Brewton Middle School and has been there ever since as band director. The end of an era will come at the end of this school year when Hagg will hang up his baton and retire.
Brewton Middle School is where the T.R. Miller Marching Band begins. Haag teaches his band students the basics to prepare them to continue on into a band that wins honors every year under the direction of Carl Major.
But even those who don't continue can learn something from Haag.
Haag said he was impressed when he first came to Brewton.
The Brewton Middle School Band may not be as visible as the high school band, but the middle school students play concerts and compete for chairs in All State Band.
Haag, who also worked with Johnny Folsom for 17 years, said both he and Major use some of their own music with the bands.
Likewise, Major has nothing but praise for Haag and his contribution to the band program.
Haag was born in Pensacola and was raised there in a family with three children. He played trumpet and tuba in school. He worked in the family-owned hardware store while he was going to school.
An opportunity came along in high school that set him on his career path.
After graduating from Escambia County High School in 1976, Haag attended Pensacola Junior College and worked in a department store. He graduated from PJC in 1979 with an associate's degree with emphasis on music. He then attended the University of West Florida, graduating in December 1981 with a bachelor's degree in music. He interned for the rest of the school year and continued to work in the department store.
In spring 1982, he went looking for a position and found the one in Brewton.
Haag said he likes to travel when he is not busy at school teaching band. He has made a trip to Australia and goes to the mountains any time he can. He also works with electronics and does some on-line work.
Why retire now? Haag is looking for some rest.