GREENFIELD — Dave Poncar has accumulated a wealth of memorable stories throughout his 40 years teaching junior high school band students, like the day one kid got stuck in a tuba.

“They can be a handful, that’s for sure,” he said.

Yet it’s the joy of music and the thrill of the unexpected that has kept him coming back to the classroom day after day since 1984, instilling a love of music in two generations of students.

The longtime band instructor at Greenfield Central Junior High School is hanging up his baton this year, transitioning into a part-time, non-musical position within the schools.

As he prepared for his final concert on Tuesday, May 7 — at the Parade of Bands in the Greenfield-Central High School gym — he waxed poetic about the sheer number of kids he was able to teach all those years, and watching them grow and have kids of their own.

“One of the seniors in the (Greenfield-Central) high school band, who I taught here at GCJHS, is the son of one of the kids I had in my very first band in 1984,” said Poncar.

He also got the chance to direct his own daughter, Diana, and then his granddaughter, Bailey, in the school band.

Poncar’s devotion to his students extends beyond their time at the junior high school.

He can often be found in the stands of high school band competitions, cheering along his former students as they dazzle the crowds with skills they acquired partly under his tutelage.

“The absolute best memories for me were being on the field in Lucas Oil Stadium as our GCHS Marching Band was announced as State Champions in 2019 and 2021,” said Poncar.

“Watching the look on my former students’ faces as they realized they won was priceless,” he said.

Poncar was also bursting with pride to see his eighth grade band earn a Gold rating with Distinction at its performance at the Indiana State School Music Association contest in April.

“I always love to see the kids’ faces when we are on stage in that magical moment at the end of a great concert,” he said.

“Knowing this would be my last time leading a Band at “Contest,” it was so nice to have them do so well, and earning a Gold rating With Distinction — with the best scores I’ve ever had a band receive — was icing on the cake.”

Poncar first joined the Greenfield-Central schools in 1996 when he was hired on as the band director at Greenfield Intermediate School and assistant band director for the G-CHS Marching Band.

He started his career teaching music for three years at Howe High School, followed by one year at Triton Central and two years at Rushville, then six years at Morristown — all at the middle school, junior high and high school.

Poncar was hired to lead Greenfield-Central Junior High School’s band when the school first opened in 2010. He’s proud to say he’s one of the only two original teachers still there.

Serving as the school’s Director of Bands has been a joy, he said, especially when he sees children’s faces light up with pride as they learn to excel.

“I enjoy teaching them the basic musical skills they’ll need to go on to high school band, but even more importantly, I emphasize to kids that no matter what it is, it’s so important for them to find something in life to be passionate about,” he said.

“I try to model for them the passion I have for teaching and music making, and I love seeing so many of our kids find their passion and ‘place’ in school by their involvement in band,” said Poncar, who said he’s cherished the great group of administrators and teachers he’s worked with in Greenfield.

Although he’s transitioning from his position as band director, Poncar will still be a familiar face around the junior high school.

For the past seven years he’s taught a state-mandated class called “Prep for College and Careers,” a role he’ll fill full-time starting next school year.

While he at first balked at teaching anything other than music, “I realized I actually enjoyed teaching it, and how valuable it is to the students in the class. It’s really rewarding to open their eyes to all the possibilities that await them in adult life,” he said.

Aside from teaching that class, Poncar said it’s time for him to retire from directing band and to pass the baton on to the other very capable band directors at the school, who he says can take the program to new heights.

“After 40 years I still love teaching. While I will certainly miss the daily music teaching…I plan to still be around as a resource and as a big supporter of the GC Band program,” he said.