CARLISLE, Ky. — The town of Carlisle, which is about an hour north-east of Lexington, has gone without a school choir program for nearly 10 years. But one teacher was determined to fix that. 

What You Need To Know

  • Ross Haney was born and raised in Carlisle

  • He started teaching at Nicholas County Middle and High School and Nicholas County Elementary School one year ago

  • Haney founded the Bluejacket Singers a year ago as well, which is the first choir Nicholas County Elementary School has had in nearly 10 years

  • Jerry Johnson, helps out with the choir as its pianist

Ross Haney loves Carlisle more than the average person because that’s where he was born and raised. The teacher serves as Nicholas County middle and high school assistant band director and the Nicholas County elementary school music teacher.

Ross Haney conducts four students during their solo performances. (Spectrum News 1/Diamond Palmer)

He’s an inspiring music teacher who brought choir back to Nicholas County Schools. The school district went without a choir for nearly 10 years. Haney is more than happy to guide 44 students through a new musical journey. He’s preparing the group for several performances in the coming months.

“We got another song that needs a lot more work,” said Haney.

With every student coming into Haney’s classroom, they’ve got 20 seconds to get to the risers. The choir is an after school activity for the students that they choose to take part in once a week.

“I wanted to come back to the community and give back, was looking for a job closer to my family and decided to ask them to open a position here,” said Haney.

It wasn’t just any position. A year ago the Carlisle native asked Nicholas County Schools to bring back choir, which is something the town hadn’t seen for nearly 10 years due to lack of support. Haney invites 4th, 5th and 6th graders to join. Most recently, they won a distinguished rating from the Kentucky Music Educators Association (KMEA).

Carlisle teacher Ross Haney conducting his students and he likes what he hears (Spectrum News 1/Diamond Palmer)

“So remember, we’re not going to stomp really hard,” said Haney.

There’s no question that his students love him. Trinity Koeder, is a 5th grader student who joined the choir to come out of her shy shell.

“He’s really good at teaching choir music and I think he has really helped. If we had any other teacher, I don’t know if they would help me like the way he does in choir,” said Coeder. 

Behind the piano is a familiar face to the town of Carlisle. It’s Jerry Johnson. Many know him from the Carlisle Chamber of Commerce but his 30 year passion for music led him right back to Haney’s classroom. He’s also Haney’s former piano teacher.

“I really don’t have the words to describe it. It’s so exciting to see music back here in Nicholas County, in our school system,” said Johnson.

Haney echoes Johnson’s thoughts with “In a lot of schools, music is really getting the short end of the stick as far as funding and as far as support. Despite all of these things the choir has been such a bright spot in this community,” said Haney. 

Haney says all of this is just the beginning for the Bluejacket Singers. Haney hopes to establish a choir for high school-aged students in the district singing together. Until then, he hopes his choir students continue their love for music by learning how to play instruments as they move throughout their school careers.

Editor's note:  In a previously published version of this story, Trinity Koeder's name was misspelled as Coeder.  We apologize for the error.