Vince Simodynes

Director Of Bands -

Vince Simodynes is originally from Papillion, Nebraska. He attended both Papillion-LaVista and Papillion- LaVista South High Schools Graduating in 2004. Following high school he attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. During his time at the university he performed in a multitude of groups including: Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, Jazz Ensembles, The Cornhusker Marching Band, Big Red Express Pep Band, Concert Choir, Varsity Men’s Choir, and the Big Red Singers (Pit musician). Also during this time he toured Europe several times with Midwest American Music Tours performing in some of Europe’s premier performance venues, such as, Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral and Venice’s St. Marks Basilica. Prior to Graduating he did his student teaching at Westside High School. He Graduated from UNL in 2010 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education. 

Since the 2011-2012 school year Mr. Simodynes has been employed by Lincoln Public Schools. From 2011 -2014 he taught elementary band and strings in a number of Lincoln Elementary Schools. In 2015 He accepted the position of Instrumental Music Director at Philip H. Schoo Middle School. In this teaching position he was responsible for instructing all of the Band classes, the 7th and 8th grade orchestra, and Beginning Guitar. In 2017, in addition to his duties at Schoo Middle School, he became the Assistant Band Director at Lincoln North Star High School. In this role he worked with the Marching Band and Co-directed the Wind Symphony. Also during this time he attended Peru State College earning his Masters Degree in Curriculum & Instruction, with special emphasis in instructional technology. 

In addition to his formal music training and teaching experience, Mr. Simodynes is a self-taught guitar player with 18 years of experience. In the past he has had his own private students, and also taught professionally at Guitar Center Omaha. 

In 2020 he accepted the Head Band Director position and Gretna High School. 

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Landon Barada

Assistant Director -

Mr. Landon Barada is the Assistant Band Director at Gretna High School.  This is his 5th year teaching at Gretna Public Schools and 10th year of teaching overall.  His teaching responsibilities include Varsity Marching Band, Freshmen Marching Band, Symphonic Band, Freshmen Concert Band, and Jazz I.  Mr. Barada received his Bachelor Of Music Education Degree from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln in 2012 with an endorsement in K-12 Music.   In 2015 he was awarded the Jack R. Snyder Young Band Director Award from the Nebraska State Bandmasters Association.  In addition to the Nebraska State Bandmasters Association (NSBA), Mr. Barada is a member of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), Nebraska Music Educators Association (NMEA), National Education Association (NEA), and the Nebraska State Education Association (NSEA). As an active trumpet player, Mr. Barada is a performing member of the Nebraska Wind Symphony, a soloist at First Lutheran – Fremont, and a freelance musician in Omaha and the surrounding areas.

Chris Tucker

Director Of Bands at Gretna Middle School

Mrs. Chris Tucker is in her 35th year in Gretna Public Schools and is currently Director of Bands at Gretna Middle School and Assistant Director at Gretna High School. She received her Bachelor of Music in Education (1987) with Highest Distinction and her Master of Music (1992) from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  In 1993, Mrs. Tucker was awarded the Jack R. Snider Young Band Director Award, and in March of 2004, she received a Distinguished Service Award from the Nebraska State Bandmasters Association for serving on its Executive Board for nine years in the role of Treasurer.  Mrs. Tucker has presented clinics at both the Nebraska Music Educators Conference and the Nebraska State Bandmasters Association conventions.  In addition, she is a frequent adjudicator for many area contests and guest conductor and clinician for regional schools and honor band festivals.  Mrs. Tucker was also the Associate Director of the Nebraska Wind Symphony from February of 2001 until July of 2012. Other professional organizations include Nebraska State Education Association, National Band Association, and Phi Beta Mu, an international honorary society for band directors.

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Amber Malone

Director Of Bands at Aspen Creek Middle School

Mrs. Amber Malone is in her 9th year of teaching and is the Director of Bands at Aspen Creek Middle School and an assistant for the Gretna High School bands. Amber graduated from the University of Nebraska-Omaha with a Bachelor of Music, Education certificate K-12. She graduated in December 2017 with a Master of Education, Curriculum and Instruction from Peru State College.  Amber is currently pursuing a Master of Education, Education Specialist from Mizzou. Amber is a member of the Nebraska State Bandmaster’s Association(NSBA), Nebraska Music Educators Association(NMEA), National Association for Music Educators(NAfME), National Education Association (NEA), and the Nebraska State Education Association (NSEA). Amber is also an alumnus of Kappa Kappa Psi, national honorary band fraternity, and served on past boards of the Omaha Chamber Music Society and Nebraska Wind Symphony.  Amber enjoys spending time with wife Aubrey, son Jackson, and three dogs Emma, Sophie, and Zippy. 

Nicholas Johnson

Percussion Instructor -

Mr. Nicholas Johnson is an educator, and prominent live/session drummer hailing from Fremont, Nebraska. A graduate of Fremont High School, he began his college career at Nebraska Wesleyan University and transferred to UNL after completing his freshman year. Among several educational opportunities, he has been the director of the show choir band at Millard North High School for the past three years. Nicholas has also been teaching private students for over 11 years and has been giving drum set master-classes to high schools around the state.

His performance and recording history is laced with amazing opportunities with several professional musicians and groups. He has played with the late Mr. Chuck Pennington (Conductor/pianist of Mannheim Steamroller), Mr. Nathan East (Bassist with Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder, Daft Punk), and The Canadian Tenors (featured on Oprah). Currently, Nicholas is the Music Director and Drum Coach at My City church where he strives to equip and empower the team of musicians to best use their gifts and talents in all facets of life. Nicholas is also proud to serve his state and country as a percussionist in the 43rd Army Band of the Nebraska Army National Guard.


Kate Wallace

Guard Instructor

Ms. Kate Wallace is a 4th year 1st grade teacher at Roosevelt Elementary School in Council Bluffs Community School District. She is originally from Omaha where she went to Westside High school. This is where she first started color guard. She performed with the independent group Afterschock Winter Guard for two seasons. She graduated high school in 2013.

After graduating high school Kate went to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln where she studied elementary education and graduated in 2017. From there she started her teaching career while also attending the University of Nebraska at Omaha for graduate school. After a one year accelerated program, she graduated in 2018 with a Masters degree in Education with a concentration in teaching English as a second language.

During Kate's years in undergrad and her one year of grad school she still continued to perform. At UNL she was a part of the Cornhusker Marching Band for all 4 years and a rank leader for her last two years. During the winters, she performed with a few different independent groups. Kate was a dancer for Dojo Percussion in 2014, a member of ONE Independent Winter Guard in 2015 and 2016, and then finally a member of the Railmen Independent Winter Guard A team in 2017 and the open team in 2018. Kate “aged out” of open class after her 2018 season.

Band Staff

Additional Staff

Maranda Vasquez

Guard Instructor

Ms. Maranda Vasquez is in her 4th year of teaching guard at GHS. Maranda attended Papillion La-Vista South High school where she spun all 4 years, doing a total of 8 seasons which included marching band and winter guard and graduated in 2017.  The fall of 2017 she attended College of Saint Mary and continued to spin with Railmen Independent Regional A in 2018. And after the school year was over she decided to take a year off. Maranda now works at Bright From The Start Child Development Center with children aged 12-18 months, while working there she still continued to spin with Railmen Independent A in 2019. In the fall of 2019 she plans on taking online classes for Early Childhood Education while continuing to work, teach color guard and continue to spin with Railmen.