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One of Aaron Stone's first lessons for his new drama students was to write raps.
East County Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010 9 years ago

Braden River welcomes new drama teacher

by: Michael Eng Executive Editor

MANATEE COUNTY — Aaron Stone shrugs his shoulders and smiles as he looks at the dry erase board in his new classroom at Braden River High School.

In the upper left corner, he had written his name: “Mr. Stone.” Next to that, a student — in a way only a teenager can — showed publicly the Pirates’ acceptance of their newest teacher by adding the words “is a baller.”

Stone is Braden River’s new drama teacher. He took the post after the Manatee County School Board suspended former teacher Charles Willis for inappropriate behavior and gross insubordination. According to the board, Willis posted inappropriate photos and comments to his Facebook page and took a group of students on an unauthorized trip to New York.

Willis has denied allegations.

Stone comes to Braden River after spending one-and-one-half years teaching band at Tyrone Middle School in St. Petersburg. Before that, he served as band director at Palmetto High School for two years.
And although this is his first official teaching post at the East County school, his allegiance to the Pirates is strong. A longtime friend of Braden River band director Kendall Carrier, Stone has assisted the school’s marching band for several years.

“We met when he was teaching at Lakewood Ranch (High School), and we’ve been friends ever since,” Stone said. “I moved up to Davenport, Iowa, when he was band director up there, and came back when he did.

“Kendall’s the one who pushed me to apply (for this position),” he said.

Stone’s lifelong love for the performing arts began when he was in the fifth grade.

“My mom rented me a trombone, and here we are, 20 years later, and I’m still playing,” he said.

Stone began his college career pursuing a music instrument repair degree at the University of Minnesota. He soon transferred to the University of Tampa and earned a music education degree.

“I knew that was really what I wanted to do with my life,” he said.

Now, after two brief stints at Palmetto High and Tyrone Middle, Stone said he feels like he found his ideal position at Braden River.

“With Kendall and (orchestra director) Kathy Cook (here), I wanted to come here and be part of a talented staff and a strong music faculty,” he said.

Although he’s still in the planning stages, Stone said he hopes to produce an annual play and musical as well as several one-acts throughout the year. He cites classics such as “West Side Story” and “1776” among his favorites but said his choice of productions will depend on the students’ talents each year.

“We’ll choose (productions) that puts the students in the best light — things they will be successful at and enjoy,” he said.

Contact Michael Eng at [email protected].

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