End of an Era: Stell band director looks forward to retirement
Celeste Canant is retiring after a 30-year career as a band director and flute teacher in the Brownsville Independent School District, split between Rivera High School and Stell Middle School.
Canant has been the head band director at Stell since 2017 but an assistant band director there since 2002. She has taught flute throughout her career.
She graduated from Texas A&amp;I University in Kingsville in 1984 with a degree in music education, and worked for the Mercedes Independent School District for four years before coming to BISD.
She taught at Perez Elementary for a year before Rolando Zapata, the band director at Rivera, hired her as an assistant band director, flute teacher and color guard instructor. She was there for 13 years.
She said her success at Rivera came in “consistently having all-state flute and piccolo players.” Meanwhile she taught flute as an adjunct professor at what became the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
“My dream was never to be a head band director, she said. “My goal was to work with students.”
Juan Cantu, then the head band director at Stell, hired Canant in 2002 as an assistant band director, woodwind instructor and director of the third band.
She had several opportunities to apply for a head band director position but passed. Finally two years ago she did so at the urging of colleagues and “with a lot of support” from Stell Principal Obed Leal.
Canant also has been in charge of the jazz band at Stell for the past 10 years. The band holds the record for the most students in the all-region jazz band during that period.
She has worked with flute players at Pace Early College High School during her time at Stell “and there have been many all-staters there as well,” she said.
She has held clinics for flute sections throughout the Rio Grande Valley. As well, many of her former students are band directors at BISD schools.
She said retirement will be bittersweet.
This past Thursday Stell held its annual end of the year concert. For the occasion Canant invited musicians she has worked with over the years, sending them the music for the arrangement of Bohemian Rhapsody to be played via messenger.
She said she has no real plans for retirement.
“I’ve always been very healthy and active,” she said, adding that she runs half-marathons and triathlons and plans to do a lot of running.
“I have a daughter and granddaughter, so I’ll spend more time with them. I’ll do some traveling and probably do private lessons. Plus, I’ll be willing to help out all my colleagues whenever they call, she said.
Canant is a Brownsville native. She graduated from Pace High School in 1980 at age 16 after attending Stell and Martin Elementary School when it was called Ebony Heights.