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“Every day I wake up happy”: 2 Alaska grads return to mentor the next generation of band musicians

  • Author: Matt Tunseth
  • Updated: August 19
  • Published August 19

Chugiak assistant football coach Kody Trombley speaks to a player at practice earlier this fall. Trombley, a 2012 Chugiak grad who attended the University of Central Florida, recently became the school’s new band director. He’s one of two former Mirror Lake Middle School band students to take over an ASD band program this fall; Jonathan Cannamore, an Eagle River High grad, is the other. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)

Kody Trombley and Jonathan Cannamore are doing more than just returning to Alaska to become teachers.

They're getting the band back together.

"Every day I wake up happy," said Trombley, the new band director at Chugiak High School.

Trombley and Cannamore are both products of the Chugiak-Eagle River music scene, having attended Mirror Lake Middle School together before splitting up for high school. Cannamore graduated from Eagle River High School in 2012, the same year Trombley graduated from Chugiak.

Returning to lead the band program at his alma mater is pretty special said Trombley, who is also an assistant football coach for the Mustangs.

"It's a dream come true," he said.

After high school, Trombley and Cannamore attended UAA together for one year before Trombley transferred to the University of Central Florida. Both graduated in 2016 and began student teaching and subbing in hopes of landing jobs in the Anchorage School District. Cannamore got the Bartlett job last spring, and Trombley learned he'd been hired at Chugiak shortly after.

"I texted him as soon as I found out," Trombley said.

Cannamore said getting to teach band in Alaska is something he's always aspired to.

"It's just home," said Cannamore, who plays guitar in the Anchorage band Concrete to Clouds in his spare time.

Mirror Lake band director Travis Harrington said he wasn't surprised a bit to learn Trombley and Cannamore had landed jobs in the district. He remembered both as talented musicians who had a passion for music.

Jonathan Cannamore, a 2012 Eagle River High School graduate, is set to become the new band director at Bartlett High School. (Photo courtesy of Jonathan Cannamore)

"They are going to be fantastic," he said. "Both of them seem to have locked in jobs where they're the right person at the right time."

Harrington said both men were standout students in what proved to be an exceptionally talented class of musicians at Mirror Lake.

"They were certainly memorable," he said.

Harrington noted that Cannamore did his student teaching at Begich Middle School under Philip Walters, meaning many of his students at BHS will be familiar faces.

"He already has working relationships with his feeder school," Harrington said.

Chugiak principal Megan Hatswell said Trombley's energy has been a welcome addition at CHS.

"Kody's excitement to be a permanent Mustang is something you can really see," she said. "This has been his dream job for a long time."

Trombley has substituted at Mirror Lake, where Harrington said the multitalented former athlete (Trombley was all-state in band and as a football lineman) was a big hit.

"He just exudes passion," Harrington said.

Both Trombley and Cannamore credited teachers like Harrington, former Chugiak band director Mike Martinson and Eagle River's George Pierce with setting them up for success.

"To have those kinds of really genuine teachers who are really amazing musicians who pour out their heart and soul, it's very inspiring," Cannamore said.

Trombley agreed.

"I had some great mentors when I was here," he said.

Harrington said he's excited to begin working with his former students. With Trombley at nearby Chugiak, he said he plans to work closely with his former student.

"I'm ecstatic about the possibilities," he said. "We've been throwing around ideas how we can build and foster the whole community of band."

The collaborative process has already started, with Cannamore saying he, Trombley, Harrington and Walters were in constant communication.

"We were all in a group text this morning," he said.

Harrington said it's gratifying to see local kids returning home to teach.

"I could not be more proud of these guys," he said.

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at editor@alaskastar.com

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