Mike Back has been at Walton High School in Marietta, Georgia since 1985, where he serves as the Director of Bands and Fine Arts Department Chair. Prior to his appointment as Director of Bands, Mr. Back served as the assistant director at Walton for thirteen years. Before coming to Walton, Mike was the percussion coordinator and arranger for the Spirit of Atlanta Drum and Bugle Corps. As a native of Alexandria, Kentucky, Mike attended Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky where he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education in 1981.
Under Mr. Back’s leadership, the band program at Walton has 285 students performing in four concert bands, marching band, two jazz bands, full orchestra and winter guard. The band has received national recognition through performances at Bands of America Regional and Grand National competitions. The band has also marched in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and is a three-time participant in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. In 2010, the John Philip Sousa Foundation presented the Walton Band with the prestigious Sudler Shield, an international award recognizing marching bands of world class excellence.
Mr. Back is a member of the National Band Association, Music Educators National Conference, Georgia Music Educators Association, the Percussive Arts Society, Phi Mu Alpha, Phi Beta Mu and Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. He also served on the staff of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Marching Band that performed in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Mr. Back has served as a clinician, judge and consultant throughout the United States and is an educational artist for Innovative Percussion. He lives in Marietta, Georgia with his wife Andrea, and their two children, Katie and Connor.
John Palmer was named the Associate Director at Walton High School in 2016; previously Mr. Palmer taught at Dickerson Middle School. He holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Furman University, a Master of Music Education degree from Louisiana State University, and an Education Specialist Degree from the University of Georgia. Prior to coming to Dickerson in 1999, he taught for three years at South Effingham Middle School in Guyton, Georgia.
Under Mr. Palmer’s direction, the Dickerson Middle School band performed at the Music for All Southeastern Regional Concert Band Festival (2015), the Music for All National Concert Band Festival (2010, 2014), the Georgia Music Educator’s Annual Convention (2006, 2016) and the University of Georgia Middle School Band Festival (2002, 2009, and 2013).
Mr. Palmer is active as a clinician and adjudicator in Georgia and South Carolina, has designed drills for local high school marching bands, has also played alto saxophone in the Savannah Winds and Tara Winds Community Bands. Mr. Palmer marched with the Spirit of Atlanta in 1991 and was a charter member of the Carolina Crown drum and bugle corps. Mr. Palmer’s professional affiliations include Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the Georgia Music Educators Association, the National Band Association, Pi Kappa Lambda, the National Association for Music Education, Kappa Delta Pi, Georgia Association of Educators, and the Professional Association of Georgia Educators. He has received six Citations of Excellence from the National Band Association, and was elected to Phi Beta Mu in 2008.
Outside of band, Mr. Palmer is a vocal advocate for public education and for teachers and state employees. He lives in Woodstock with his wife, Elaine, and his two children Rebecca and Jack.