Photography by Danny Fulgencio.

You could say band runs in Meghann Zenteno’s blood. 

The Lake Highlands Junior High band director’s parents were band kids. Zenteno herself started at age 12, falling in love with the community and atmosphere a school band creates. 

“I liked it a lot, that’s where all my friends were,” Zenteno says. 

At first, it seemed Zenteno might not be made for band. She was dead set on playing flute, but couldn’t make a single sound with the woodwind instrument. Then she tried clarinet, and still plays it to this day. 

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This past school year marked the fifth year of Zenteno’s reign in Lake Highlands. As band director, Zenteno is in charge of about 400 kids who attend not only the junior high, but its feeder elementary schools as well. 

Zenteno oversees the band programs at Northlake, Lake Highlands, Thurgood Marshall, Wallace and White Rock elementary schools. She experiences first hand students’ development from sixth to eighth grade. 

“You get these kids that are babies and can’t do anything and sound real bad at first,” Zenteno says of the sixth graders. But by the end “not only have they grown in height and as humans, but they also sound great.”

Zenteno says she loves pushing kids to higher levels they thought they would never reach. 

Through band, students learn about delayed gratification, failing multiple times before succeeding and teamwork, she says.

“You get to chase perfection and never get it, but you get to keep going,” she says. 

Before teaching at Lake Highlands Junior High, Zenteno taught band at her own junior high in Midland for five years. Then she and her husband quit their jobs, packed up everything and went on a sabbatical to Santiago, Chile, to visit his family. A few months of visiting turned into living and working in Chile for a year and a half. 

While there, she taught English to middle school students. The experience helped her learn the importance of patience in teaching. 

“Middle school kids are middle school kids no matter where they are,” she says.