But once his students thanked him and showered him with gifts, such as a tambourine and tickets to the
"I'm deeply touched," he told the audience as he wiped his eyes. "It's been a pleasure and an honor to work with your kids, and I will miss them."
After being a band director in the
He led his final concert Tuesday evening, which featured
"There is a time in your life when you feel like there are some things you want to do yet with the rest of your life," the 61-year-old Francis said. "I have a lot of other interests and activities I'm involved in, and I'd like to devote more time to those."
Some of the activities include building and flying radio-controlled planes, playing classical guitar and bird watching.
"I also like to read," Francis said. "I want an opportunity to travel as well."
Francis began his career at
He spent his entire career as a band director working with elementary and middle school students in the
"At this level, everything you do is so new to the kids, and they get so excited about it," Francis said.
"It's a time in their musical progression where they quickly move from a beginner to a very confident, proficient player by the eighth-grade.
"I've just really enjoyed working with this age group."
During the concert, Francis' two adult children joined seventh- and eighth-grade students on stage for a rendition of "March from First Suite for
"My kids surprised me over the weekend and showed up for my final concert," Francis said. "Both of them miss playing now that they are out of college. I thought it would be a nice touch to include them in this final concert."
Both of his children were among his students at
"This is meaningful for us too because we were students of his at one point," said
"I think it's been a great, long career for him," she said. "He is really going out with a bang."
"It's pretty exciting," he said. "It means a lot for us to play in his last concert since we went though the middle school with him. It's pretty special for him."
"He encouraged me to seek out as many play opportunities as possible," Davis said. "In school, he exposed me to a lot of different music I wouldn't have heard otherwise."
Without thinking, Davis said he teaches his students pretty much the same way Francis taught him.
"He will always influence me, and I trust what he is doing," he said. "I know he is a great teacher, and I want to emulate what he is doing."
During his career, Francis taught students in five different decades. Throughout that time, he has touched the lives of thousands of students.
"He cares about his job, and he cares about the kids, and you can definitely tell," Davis said. "He is a very knowledgeable musician, and he is an excellent saxophone player. He is good at his craft, and it rubs off on the students."
"We love him so dearly," she said as she held her French horn.
Morris has only been playing the French horn for a year, and she credits Francis for her progression.
"He is so nice, and he has the best patience," Morris said. "He will work through everything with you, and he will make sure you are comfortable with what you are doing. He is the best band teacher we could ever ask for."
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