By Jodi Marze, Lifestyles Editor
The Picayune Item
Ronnie Pascal is embarking on an endeavor which will touch the lives of young musicians as well as honor someone who greatly inspired him.
Pascal, the owner of RP Percussion, is setting up the “Jerry Cumberland Scholarship” in honor of the much loved band director who taught at both Picayune Memorial High School and Pearl River Central High School.
“Mr. Cumberland was my band teacher at Picayune High and he was a real inspiration. I could think of no better way to honor him than through a scholarship. He has had some health challenges and I saw no reason to wait on this — I want to do it now and let him see what he has inspired through his passion for music and helping students reach their potential,” said Pascal.
Cumberland has had a long and distinguished career, devoting more than 30 years of his life to teaching music and directing bands in Mississippi, 17 years as a music director at Pine Grove Baptist Church, and was inducted into the Gulf Coast Band Directors Hall of Fame.
Cumberland was quoted in the Item on his teaching philosophy, “Teaching, whether it’s music or math or English,” he said, “is such a personal thing, and you have to respect that child and reach them as a real person in order to win their trust.
“A good teacher gets up every day wanting to go to school and help people and his or her students,” said Cumberland.
Pascal felt that passion from his mentor and has channeled that today into a community business from which he gives music lessons on a variety of instruments as well as working as member of the Harvey Jesus and Fire band.
He is on the same page with his former band director who has always said, “As a band director, I am a teacher, a coach, a counselor, a psychologist; you name it; you need to be all of the above when you teach. The number one thing is you have to love kids, and you have to want to see them succeed. When you can get a student every day to look you in the eye and tell you the truth and be real with you, you have really accomplished something.”
Pascal is proud to honor his former director through this scholarship and hopes he will be active in choosing recipients.
The amount of scholarship has not been determined at this time but Pascal plans to have it in place for this year’s applicants. Donations can be brought to his store address at 211 West Canal Street.
Guidelines for the scholarship are as follows:
*Must be a Picayune or PRC Senior majoring in music
*Must have a 3.0 or higher GPA
*Must write a minimum of 250 word essay on the following topic: “How does music effect your daily life?”
*Applications for the scholarship will be available at a later date TBA.
*Deadline for entries will be Wednesday, May 1, 2013.
*A panel will read over each entry and a decision will be made for one Picayune senior student and one PRC senior student.
If you or someone you know would be a good candidate for this scholarship, please send relevant information to Pascal through the website: www.rppercussion.com.
“Cumberland built a lot of good people and a lot of good things,” said Pascal. “This scholarship will be a standing tribute to his contributions in people and the community at large.”
Editor’s note: Everyday Heroes is a column that celebrates community members who selflessly give of themselves to make Pearl River County a better place. Is there someone you would like for us to consider for the column? Either send an email with details, including your contact information to: firstname.lastname@example.org or fax 601-798-8602.