The Artisan: What made you decide to come work at DA?
Hammond: I put in a couple of applications for some schools in town, and one of those schools called Mr. Clayton as one of my references, and he said “well, I’m pretty sure that the person who is here right now is not coming back next year, and I would love if you would consider filling it.” So I said sure! I came in for an interview with Principal Hammer and Mr. Clayton last year, and it went really well, they offered it to me within 30 minutes of me leaving. It’s my alma mater, it’s a great school to work for. The kids in general want to be here, want to work hard, want to pursue their passion. It’s nice to work with a slightly higher level of musicians than some other public high schools would have.
The Artisan: How would you say your experience has been teaching?
Hammond: It was weird coming into a year where we were doing so much rebuilding from COVID, last year was a bit bumpier than I would’ve expected it to be. This year we’re starting off a lot stronger, we have a lot more foundations in place. The faculty are great, I enjoy all of my coworkers, the facilities are great. I enjoy it here! I think it’s a good place to be.
The Artisan: Is there a famous singer you’d like to either bring in for your students or be able to talk to yourself?
Hammond: Renée Flemming. She’s one of the most famous American classical singers of our time right now, if we had enough money to bring her in that would be amazing. But that’s just pipe dreams for me. Really I would love to bring in some people from universities around the country, just so that the students can have a better idea of what’s out there after high school. Most of the time high school kids in Jacksonville think UNF, FCSJ, FCU, UCF, a visual artist maybe thinks SCAD, but for music kids there’s not really a lot of really big well known music colleges in southeast United States.