Students, parents gather to support SAA band teacher - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Students, parents gather to support SAA band teacher

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Students and parents are uniting in support of a Savannah Arts Academy band teacher.

The school board voted to send him a letter of non-renewal, which could eventually leave him without a job.

"It disappoints me a lot that the board would do this," said 10th grade student Luana Oliveira.

With tears and green ribbons, Savannah Arts Academy students and parents showed up to the Board of Education meeting on Wednesday to support their band teacher Vann Thorton.

"He has brought so much passion and commitment into the system that I have never seen from another band director that I've had in the past," said Oliveira.

"We wanted to hopefully send a message to the board of education that we are here to support him," said 10th grade student Mary Allison McCarthy. "Everybody loves him and we don't want to see him go."

The Board of Education voted on Wednesday not to renew Thorton's contract, citing job performance under the notes on the consent agenda, a shocking and heartbreaking fact to his students and their parents, who said he has revived the band program.

"It's very painful to accept," said McCarthy. "Everyone has become so close to him just in the last two years, he has become a father figure to everyone in the whole school, and it's just terrible."

"Mr. Thorton brought us all back to students being in All State again this year, my son being one of them," said parent Gigi Huneycutt. "We appreciate hit time, his effort."

Thorton's attornery, Tony Center, said they think this is only the first step.

"There's no discussion today, but once we get the official statutory notice, then Mr. Thorton will decide what he wants to do next," said Center.

The district says they cannot comment on this ongoing personal matter, but Thorton will have the opportunity to call a fair dismissal hearing.

The President and CEO of the Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation recently named Savannah Arts Academy a 2014 Grammy Signature School, one of just 12 schools selected across the nation.

It comes with a $5,000 check that will be presented at their concert on May 16.

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