When Dana Taylor announced his retirement from Mount Vernon, a huge void in the music department was left.
Filling that position would be tough, but the administration did not have to look far.
Ryan Knight, who has served at Vocal Music Director at North Posey the past three years will be taking on the role at Mount Vernon this fall.
Knight is a native of Benton Ill., and he studied music at Murray State University.
From Murray, he earned his Bachelor’s in Music and a Master’s in Music Education.
He worked a year prior to North Posey part-time at Murray High School as their Music Director.
He made his way to North Posey due to a college friendship.
“One of my good friends, Frankie Leslie, taught band here and they had a choir opening,” said Knight. “He called me and we talked about it for awhile, then I made the decision to come up here.”
Similar to Mount Vernon, Knight’s background was influenced by a strong fine arts program in high school.
“For being such a small school, we had a strong program,” he said. “It included the theatre program, where there was a teacher teaching multiple different drama classes. We had a really strong band program with great educational trip every year, performing in Walt Disney, New York and other locations. And we had a really strong choir program as well. Choir was not a niche group. It was an advanced, elite ensemble that did everything.”
While Knight is excited to make his way to Mount Vernon for a new opportunity, he knows it is tough to leave the kids he has grown to love at North Posey and the special moments they have made.
“There are small moments that people don’t know about,” he said. “even today, we had a small moment with the junior high group. They get a piece of music they have never seen in their lives and they they fill out an evaluation form. Their ability to isolate problems, fix them and make it better; they do it instinctively. That is something hard to do for young singers. Choir is an opportunity for them to have a common goal, then attack small individual problems and make it better.”
Knight said there are also bigger moments they have shared.
“Last year the junior high group performed in the Group One category at ISSMA Contest,” he said. “That is the toughest level for junior high and there aren’t a lot of schools that attempt it.”
When Taylor made the decision to call it a career, Knight was who he thought of as a replacement.
“I have known Mr. Taylor for several years and he indicated to me that he was thinking about retiring and would be looking for someone to suggest to the administration,” said Knight. “He asked me to keep that in mind. I struggled with that for awhile because you become very attached to a program. It didn’t take too long for me to become attached to these kids. This isn’t my first program, but this is the longest I have been anywhere. It was very difficult even looking someplace else. Ultimately, after having conversations with Mr. Taylor, the Mount Vernon administration, this new position is going to offer several new opportunities that are of particular interest to me.”
For Knight, he knows the legacy that Taylor has built and is ready for the challenge.
“Mr. Taylor has built, basically from scratch, a technical theatre program rivaled only by larger, more diversified schools not only in the state, but the region and a majority of the country,” he said. “The technical theatre program at Mount Vernon is very rigourous and Mr. Taylor knows what he is talking about. He is the guru of technical theatre education in our area. For me coming into that, it is daunting. He has 30 years of expperience, I am only 27. So this program has been developing longer than I have been alive. That is very intimidating because I have to balance my knowledge and perspective with the legacy he built.”
While Taylor has the legacy, Knight will work to make the program his from here on out.
“The rigor of the program is provided by me, but if the kids are motivated to do really great things then all I have to do is pave the path,” said Knight.