LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Ophelia Darby

Position: Band Director
School: Edisto High School
School District: Orangeburg Consolidated School District #4
City, State: Cordova, SC

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Music that Describes Ophelia

Dr. Ophelia Darby was nominated by two anonymous students.

Dr. Darby is ambitious, optimistic, and open-minded. She is ambitious because she gives her all in making sure students have everything they need. However, she expects them to give it their all in class if she goes out her way for them. Dr. Darby is very optimistic if she sees that students are giving their all or more. She also sees potential in those who others would pass by. Dr.Darby is open-minded on a daily basis. She provides students with different strategies to help their technique with playing instruments, breathing, and etc.

The leadership Dr. Darby shows in her district is remarkable. As a band director, a guider, a board member, mother, and mentor, she puts her heart, soul, and thoughts into her actions. She teaches her class with enthusiasm and determination. She guides the students with constructive criticism, because the real world is not a "hand-feed" system. Dr. Darby critiques on whether students are doing what is needed to succeed in the band. This makes her a great leader in her school/district because she pushes students to be better and to their limits.

Dr.Darby's performance level is quite high. She has directed a band that has been to state championships five times. She has awards like the best color guard, best drum line, best horn line, the J.W. award and etc. Dr. Darby is known around the midlands of South Carolina, as well as other locations in North and South Carolina,. to be hard-working and dedicated. She was recognized as the teacher/faculty/staff member of the month. Dr. Darby has also been recognized by the district office for her marvelous work with the Blue Machine marching band.

She benefits all of her students by having them apply what they have learned to modern day situations. Dr. Darby has found many sponsors for students who have difficulty paying their part of the band fee. She does this because she knows how much love the students have for this class. Dr. Darby also keeps students out of trouble by making sure they are doing something at every moment and not wasting their talent. She provides students she knows are dependable and dedicated with a job after high school with another band.

"Dr. Darby is hard-working, consistent, and supportive. She is a great leader who goes the extra mile to provide for her students," said one of her nominators.

"Dr. Ophelia Darby changed my life for the better," said her other nominator. "Before I met her, I was constantly getting into trouble and heading down the wrong path. Most teachers didn't bother with me as a result, but she was different. She was always in my corner looking over me, even when I didn't want her to. I met Dr. Darby through band in Middle School, as she was the band director. Over the seven years I have participated in band, Dr. Darby never gave up on me, no matter how many reasons I gave her to. If I never met her, I'd probably be lost. Now, I'm waiting to receive a band scholarship to the college I've always wanted to go to since I was a kid. I thank her for everything she has done for me. I'm not the only student she has done this for; I am only one of many."

Comments (48)

Dana A McKeithan Posted over a year ago

Dr.Darby has made a great impact in my life in just the four years that I have known her. She's been there if I ever needed to talk and she always knows what to say. She always helps her school kids out no matter the circumstances. Dr.Darby has changed so many people's lives in so many ways and I'm so proud to call her my band director. She's not perfect but who is? Dr.Darby deserves every award there is. Her whole band is so thankful for all the work she has done year after year. She is a very honest person whether you like what she is about to say or not. She deserves this.

Shonita Montford Posted over a year ago

Dr. Darby, is a great peer leader, mentor, teacher, prayer partner and parent to many children in our community. She leads by example. Dr. Darby, has changed my life in several aspects. By guiding my through my career as a new teacher, coaching me to advance academically as a life-long learner, and sharing with me the tools it takes to be a successful coach and mentor to our youth. Thank you Dr. Darby for all you've done and continue to do.

Costonzo Bryant-Martin Posted over a year ago

It provides me with great pleasure to comment on behalf of Dr. Ophelia Darby for the “Life Changer” award. My journey with Dr. Darby began in the Spring of 2016 as an undergraduate clinical intern (student teacher) at Edisto High School and Carver-Edisto Middle School where she was my cooperating teacher. Throughout my professional and personal relationship with Dr. Darby, she has contentiously provided me support, mentorship, and inspiration in my life. Why does Dr. Darby deserve this award? How has Dr. Darby changed my life and others aboard? My clinical internship consisted of a phenomenal experience with Dr. Darby. She provided me with outstanding teaching practices and guidance that was essential to my development as a clinical intern. It was inspiring observing Dr. Darby’s passion and dedication to her students. During my internship, Dr. Darby directed several ensembles including middle and high school concert band, jazz band, in-door percussion, and winter guard. Her students participated in the Edisto Conference, Region Band (where she was the clinician), All-State Band, Concert Performance Assessment, South Carolina State University’s Teacher Induction, and Solo and Ensemble. Dr. Darby works countless hours to provide her students with invaluable support and experiences. Despite being provided with an underfunded (in comparison to other band programs in the state of South Carolina) band budget, Dr. Darby has continued to propel her students to success. Even with an unfunded budget, Edisto High School still competes at state level events sponsored by the South Carolina Band Director Association. It is astonishing hearing how much Dr. Darby financially invests into her students and band program. All educators regardless of experience and degrees are underpaid for their job responsibilities. What educator spends her paycheck to invest back into her students and school? Dr. Darby! Dr. Darby does not believe in excuses! Regardless of money, time, energy, or sacrifice nothing will impede on Dr. Darby changing the world, the worlds of her students and those blessed to be her life. Why does Dr. Darby deserve this award? Well…… just read each of the touching and meaning comments that are posted on her behalf! All the lives that she has influenced, including mine. Dr. Darby is an exceptional and remarkable individual and band director. She continues to be our model. Dr. Darby exemplifies to us that regardless of any excuses in life that anything and everything is possible and achievable. She is our example. Please select Dr. Ophelia Darby for the “Life Changer” award. Respectfully, Costonzo Bryant-Martin Band Director W.G. Sanders Middle School Richland County School District One Office Phone: (803) 738-7575 ext. 4220

B Salley Posted over a year ago

Dr. Darby has taught me a lot about what it means to be strong, dedicated, and humble. I was supposed to work with another teacher during my student teaching but somehow I ended up working under Dr. Darby. For those three months that I worked with her, I not only learned about teaching, but I learned about creating a program that has a legacy and reputation for success. She shared her knowledge and did all she could to help me be successful in her classroom so that when I got my own, I would be prepared. She has become a member of my family and has formed a relationship with my son and even the students I currently teach. If I need her, I can call her and she will always have a suggestion or solution. Her dedication to the families of the students she serves is inspiring and I am thankful for the time spent and knowledge gained from knowing her. She loves her students, her family, and God. My relationship with her is important to me and I thank her for all she has taught me thus far.

Barbara P. Elliott Posted over a year ago

Dr. Darby is a dedicated hard-working professional who is very committed to her students and the community. Often Dr. Darby's students participate in community activities, parades, competitions, athletic events and special programs, which require hours of practice. When many other faculty members are leaving school, her day is transitioning to drills. Her students are taught discipline, work ethic and music concepts. Dr. Darby works hard to hone students' musical abilities. In addition, she has trained numerous band teachers by serving as a cooperating teacher for student teachers from the local colleges. Always full of energy and a positive attitude, she is a great colleague with whom many enjoy working. Dr. Darby is a phenomenal educator and one who is most deserving of the National Life Changer Award.

Hakeem Allen Posted over a year ago

Dr. Darby is a name that’s widely known across many different places. And for good reason too, I myself can vouch for that. If it wasn’t for her, I would not have gotten an $18,000 scholarship offer. She has instilled many things into me and my band mates. She is a strong believer in hard work and that you have to work for whatever you want in this world. Nothing is ever given to you! I wouldn’t be the person I am today if not for her trust and belief in me and I promise you I’m not the only one who believes this.

Betty Jenkins Posted over a year ago

Most people know Dr. Darby from their experiences with her band program. Very few know her the way I do. She is my friend. We call each other sister. I love her. I have seen her interact with her students after the halftime performance or band competition, when the lights have been turned off and the stadium is empty. Anyone involved in education will tell you that the needs of our students go far beyond the classroom. Yet so many of us meet and leave those needs right there, but not Ophelia Darby. I have witnessed her provide clothing, food and even shelter for "her kids." Buy the things they needed from her own personal finances. I have known her to never give up on children that others thought were unreachable. She has opened doors of opportunity for many that have gone on to college and followed in her footsteps. If ever there was someone who has been the epitome of a lifechanger it is Dr. Ophelia Darby!

Austin Ehrhardt Posted over a year ago

As I look back on the things Dr. Darby has done for her band, her school, and her community it gets somewhat overwhelming. Just her hardwork and dedication alone is the best example one could ask for, students see her working hard all day long, day in and day out, she is the quintessential teacher. Personally she has been a second mother to me, she has supported me and pushed me through my music studies and in life. No one could have asked for a better band director, someone who is willing to do anything, and work as long as it takes to make sure the success of her students are top priority.

Deborah Johnson Posted over a year ago

I have been an educator for more than 30 years and have witnessed a decline of dedicated educators who make their students first priority. Dr. Darby represents the teacher whose main responsibility is to make students better by motivating them to become their best. She is a great asset to our school.

Walter E. Busby Posted over a year ago

Dr. Darby is a teacher that cares about her students and it goes without saying ‘she loves her family’. She exemplifies an infectious attitude to push, motive and support students in their endeavors. Her band is one the smallest in state competition but is always a force in the high school music world. She always expect your best and will give what it takes to get to get you to the next level. Nothing but continual success for a great teacher! Walter

Michelle Whitman Posted over a year ago

Dr. Darby and I work at the same high school. My first year here, she became my mentor and a great friend. She constantly exhibits positivity on all of her students. She pushes and encourages young minds to give it their best. Out of all the teachers that I know, I feel Dr. Darby goes above and beyond for all of the work she does for her children. She is an excellent role model for all teachers to follow. She is the prime example of what one should strive for. Dr. Darby deserves this award for her continuous determination and willingness to want her students to succeed.

Charline J Howard Posted over a year ago

Dr. Darby is a dedicated and hard worker for not only her band students, but all students. I teach special education, and she is the music teacher for their adaptive music class. She makes them feel so great when they are taught the different instruments and their sounds.

Herman Johnson Posted over a year ago

Dr. Darby were here own is an awesome and dedicated person. She has always gone above and beyond for her students. She treats each child as if they are her own. Dr. Darby is an amazing person who deserve this award. H. Johnson

Pamela Murdock Huggins Posted over a year ago

Great job Mrs. Darby, you are truly an inspiration, your determination, hard-work, and dedication revolves throughout your program. Keep engaging in your students through persistence, and strength and your band will prove the ownership of many competitions. We are proud of you and it's a pleasure to know I've worked with you. God bless you.

Dana A McKeithan Posted over a year ago

Dr.Darby is the greatest band director ever. she makes being on the Blue machine marching band super fun. she treats every one of us as if were her own. shes always there when you need to talk and she goes out of her way to help people. She deserves this. Shes goes out of her way to make sure everyone is okay.

Nelly Caro Posted over a year ago

I know Dr Darby since 2006, we work at the same school, and I can say that She is a person who has passion for the things that she is doing. She always goes an extra mile for her students; no matter if it is morning, afternoon, evening or weekends she is willing to work with her students.As a coworker she is a happy and enthusiastic person. She inspire me. Thank you Dr Darby for all the input in our school. Nelly Caro. Spanish teacher EHS.

Stefanie August Posted over a year ago

Dr. Darby is someone I consider a friend in addition to a colleague. Since I met her 6 years ago, she has never stopped. She is always going and doing for her kids and others. Through every school day, weekend, and break, she is working with and for her kids, much of the time with her own resources. She won't allow a student to go without. If they want to be in band, drumline, color guard, winter guard, whatever, she will make it happen. She's been a support to me through teaching and in my personal life. She is always there when I or anyone else needs her, and always with a smile. No one deserves this more than she does!

Dana Jacobs Posted over a year ago

Dr. Darby strives for excellence in everything she does. She encourages her students to do the same. Not only does motivate and inspire the children, but she also introduces them to others who nurture them. Dr. Darby treats each child as if they are her own, and has built a family within the band. She has dedicated countless hours to make sure that the children excel not only academically but are also prepared for the real world. The children are introduced to skills that will help them far beyond their years at Edisto. She has a special kind of strength that not only rubs off on the children, but also the entire band family (parents, other teachers, and the community.

Dennis Meyers Posted over a year ago

Dr.Darby is truly dedicated to her students through classroom music education, concert band and marching band. Dr. Darby successfully utilizes her limited resources and her own finances to ensure that the high music experience for our students is available and relevant. Dr. Darby is truly a life changer. Dr. Darby’s influence begins in middle school and continues to our students graduate. She is one person doing the work of 6-8 persons and she always does it with a smile ??.

Katie Arrowood Posted over a year ago

Dr.Darby is truly an amazing, incredible role model not only to her students but to anyone who knows her. Dr. Darby goes beyond her duties of just being a teacher, she does so much for so many in and around our community. Dr. Darby has a passion like no other, when her students need anything she always makes sure they don't do without (even if she has to use her own money to get it taken care of). Dr. Darby well deserves to be recognized for all that she does for everyone!

CaNeisha Jenkins Posted over a year ago

Dr. Darby has been my teacher and band director. I have personally seen her help many students over the years. If a child is in need and she can help she will. I know that Dr. Darby has spent multiple hours writing grants, making phone calls, and sending emails to get funding for different things. It could be for the band, music department, or the school as a whole. Dr. Darby is also a shoulder to cry on. When her students are in pain she is more then willing to hear what’s going on and help if possible. I have seen her attend many events to support her students, even during unfortunate events such as funerals. I love the way she will see potential in a student and do whatever she can to help them further that potential and not just in music. Dr. Darby is a life changer so she would be the perfect candidate for the award.

Imani Darby Posted over a year ago

Ophelia Darby is a great leader n role model.

Shakeia R Darby Posted over a year ago

Dr. Ophelia Darby also known as mom for me is a phenomenal person. I can remember from the very beginning when she started at Scotts Branch High School. She gave her all to build the band up. Reaching out to children was and still is her specialty. We had so many big brothers and sisters that in our lives. To fast forward she has been with Edisto Middle and High School and has done the same if not more. I have watched her sacrifice alot to build and maintain her programs. My mom is so amazing!! I am proud that God saw fit to allow her to bless so many people in her life.

Harvina Pittman Posted over a year ago


Julisa Reed Posted over a year ago

I had the privilege of learning music and marching in the Blue Machine Marching Band under the direction of Mrs. Darby. Her passion for music and excellence in everything you do was her driving point and what makes her such an admirable member of our community. I'll never forget those wonderful pep talks she led before a band competition or concert, the one on one help in our areas of need and just being a motivator to want more out of life and to seek out opportunity. Thank you Mrs. Darby :)

Jeremiah Douglas Posted over a year ago

Dr. Darby looks for young people whose life she can change. If you're sitting around not doing anything and she sees you, she'll put an instrument in your hand before you can get into any mischief or trouble. I know of numerous kids that were in violent communities, hanging around with the wrong people, whose lives could have went dangerously wrong, if she had not stepped in with an instrument, or inspired them to sing. Not only is she skillful and knowledgeable about her craft, she is admirable in her love for the students, kids, and adults that she instructs and enkindles.

Mercedes Posted over a year ago

She's an AMAZING teacher Mom & Aunt .. She'll go the extra mile for someone as long as she see's progress in you & you see progress in yourself !!

Nick Dunlap Posted over a year ago

A very great person goes outta her way to go above an beyond to the youth no matter what it is I think every school should have Dr Darby

Channon Watkins Posted over a year ago

Best ever! Her support and dedication is unmatchable.

Jasmine Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Darby (as I know her) has always been an advocate for children in the community in every way. She has sacrifices for other people's children all her life from making sure they were properly fed to exposing them to the arts. She is a true definition of what a life changer should be!

Chrishawn Darby Posted over a year ago

She inspired me to take the career path I am currently on. She was always pushing me to be my best even when I wanted to give up on myself. I now watch as she give her current students opportunities that they would not have had other wise. She is truly a life changer.

Ashley Hayes Posted over a year ago

Dr. Darby is an amazing teacher and leader at Edisto High School. She always has a smile and encouraging words for her colleagues and for students. She is a great role model and I'm proud to know her and work with her.

Cornelius Blanding Posted over a year ago

Darby is a phenomenal educator and an even more dynamic soul! She is very passionate about music education. She reignited my fire while I was studying under her. How could one not be inspired by her level of expertise and rawness? This nomination was well deserved. ?? ??

Shana Jackson Posted over a year ago

There is a difference between teaching as a job and teaching out of love . Dr Darby teaches from the heart ?

Deanna Davis Posted over a year ago

My son has always wanted to be a member of the band. He knew who Dr. Darby was before he was old enough to be in her class. He met her at a game when he was in elementary school and he was so excited when she asked his name and what grade he was in. I told Dr. Darby that story when he became a member of her marching band. Of course, she didn’t recall the encounter but that just shows how a brief moment or a kind word makes a difference in a child’s life. She is always giving her time, support, and money when needed to support the kids and the band program. Her passion and enthusiasm for what she does is limitless. Dr. Darby is and always will be a life changer.

Tara Yongue Posted over a year ago

The Best!

Sydnia Petersen Posted over a year ago

Dr. Darby is an extremely attentive educator. She is devoted to giving students chances that they may not normally have had. She always does what she can to get any student interested in being in the band a chance to participate. She has had several friends who have donated instruments to the students and works tirelessly to get her students to attain excellence. We live in a rura area and Dr Darby makes sure her students get to experience things that they may not in other circumstances. Earlier this year she took a group to a competition and then out for a nice dinner afterwards. She is definitely a life changer!

Sherry Kittrell Posted over a year ago

Dr. Darby works really hard with our band. She cares about each of students and wants them to succeed.

Anna Morgan Townsend-Smith Posted over a year ago

Dr. Darby is so deserving of this award. I have been teaching at Edisto High School for twelve years, and I cannot say enough good words about Dr. Darby. She is the true definition of dedication to a program, school, district, community, students and colleagues. She truly cares about everyone’s success. She works hard and pushes her students, but it is only because she wants them to reach their full potential. Dr. Darby does whatever it takes to make sure her students have whatever they need to be successful. She is selfless in every way. I am truly amazed at how she does all she does in one day as she is split between two schools. Her days are long, as she is always one of the last to leave the school. When I think of a teacher who I have looked up to over the past twelve years, I think of Dr. Darby as admire her selfless dedication to making the Edisto High School, Orangeburg District Four, and Orangeburg County a better place, one child at a time!

Mary Vanzego Posted over a year ago

Dr. Ophelia Darby changed the life of two of my sons who are doing well in life today, she not only taught them in band but how to become a productivity person in the world which we live in. she was very firm, strong and encouraging also inspiring to my sons. she has also touch my life and helped make a different in a positive way. Dr. O. Darby's work have spoken for her through out this community she have just been a friend, mother, sister, mentor, leader, I could go on and on about all the accomplishments values that she have show and given to other. Her outstanding talent has been amazing how she influence people of color all walk of life, so I want to thank her for being a part of my life. Ms. Vanzego

Michelle C Brown-Nelson Posted over a year ago

Dr. Darby is a dedicated instructor that cares about all students, not just the band kids. She believes in pushing them toward excellence. I have had the pleasure of working alongside her for the past 15+ years. She deserves this award.

Lamikka Purvis Posted over a year ago

Darby is absolutely one of THE most dedicated educators and motivators I know! She extends herself beyond what is required without boasting or expecting recognition. She often uses her own resources if it means meeting the needs of her students. It's in her to be who she is and it shows in her every move. The Life Changer of the Year is Ophelia Darby whether publicly recognized or not.

Wendy Metts Posted over a year ago

This woman is awesome! I went to Edisto High School with her, and now we both have returned to our Alma Mater. She is SO DESERVING because of all the lives she has influenced positively!!

Linda Mack Posted over a year ago

Dr. Darby’s dedication to her students and the band is beyond indescribable. She often spends her own money and goes beyond the call of duty to make sure her students have what they need to be successful. She spends countless hours after school and on weekends for her students. She is to commended for her sincere dedication and passion to and for her students.

Liz Anderson Posted over a year ago

Momma Darby as I like you call her is not only the best candidate for life changer of the year but the most deserving! I was once a student of Mrs. Darby and then I quickly became apart of her family. I am now also lucky to be a colleague of hers. She has always gone above and beyond for her kids (students) as well as for our school. She would bend over backwards and does multiple times a year to make sure that her kids have what they need/ deserve to be successful! I consider it a privilege to have this woman as a role model and a part of my life and can not think of anyone else who deserves the title of life changer more!

Leonora Cabute Posted over a year ago

It's about time to recognize Dr Darby who dedicated her whole career to bring students to showcase theur talents all over the place.I went to one of their out of town competitions and we didn't get home until almost 3 in the morning and shes does that several times in a year! What a great sacrifice for students.

Drew Bozard Posted over a year ago

Dr. Darby is one of the most passionate, caring, skilled, and talented educators I have ever met. She has been an invaluable mentor to me during these past four years I have worked at Edisto as choral director. She always knows how to help when I go to her with a problem, and I have seen her guide many students down a meaningful, successful path over the years. She truly cares about each student who enters her classroom and has a big heart for education. I would be thrilled for her to receive this award as it would bring great recognition to an excellent, deserving, LIFE-CHANGING teacher.

Brad Coleman Posted over a year ago

This is my recommendation for Dr. Darby, Band Director and Teacher at Edisto High School. I proudly endorse her for the Life Changer Award for 2018-2019. It has been a pleasure working with Dr. Darby and I can speak directly to her strengths, first as a caring professional and second as an expert director of bands. Dr. Darby is dedicated, resourceful, hardworking, ethical, and a great organizer of tasks and people. Dr. Darby is considered our number one resident of anything musical or anything in and around our community. She is recognized as such throughout Orangeburg County and beyond. Dr. Darby has worked tirelessly to develop positive working relationships with our students, parents, staff and community. She not only provides exceptional educational experiences, she does it with the most positive and loving aptitude and demeanor I have ever witnessed. In addition, she is often found listening and counselling students who need a positive mentor in their lives. Her positive influence directly has helped “save” students that might have otherwise fallen between the cracks. Dr. Darby is always assisting our administrative team and has been so supportive this year in leading our new Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (P.B.I.S.) process. This service to our school, along with her vast knowledge of music and marching band coupled with her relationship skills should put her at the top of your list for your a Life Changer Award Winner! In conclusion, in my 25 years in public education, I have not found a more knowledgeable, professional and caring individual as Dr. Darby! It is my sincere opinion she possesses all of the characteristics and qualifications for this honor. Please consider this my highest recommendation. Sincerely, Brad Coleman Principal, Edisto High School