By Jill Fox
A solo quickly became a duet when Marjory Stoneman Douglas inherited another star faculty member from Charles W. Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines.
First, Michelle Kefford was tapped as the new principal, and now Stephen Rivero has joined the MSD family as the new band director.
After four years with the Eagle Regiment, including back-to-back state championship wins this year, Band Director Alex Kaminsky recently announced that he would be leaving MSD to accept a position as the director of bands at Vandercook College of Music in Chicago.
Although Rivero doesn’t like to shift around much, this move struck a chord with Rivero, who sees it as a promotion because there are more things for him to do.
“When you’ve been doing this for a while, you just get that feeling,” he said.
When Rivero told his sons, Austin, 13 and 11-year-old twins, Adam, and Aiden about the move to MSD, he explained he wanted to take the already highly successful students to the next level. He also discussed how the February 14 shooting played a role in his decision.
“After the tragedy, I really felt that the students needed me. I want to help those kids really learn how to be kids again,” said Rivero.
This wasn’t the first time Rivero was asked to work at MSD. He was approached twice before; however, it wasn’t the right time and aside from the long drive, He couldn’t be more excited to bring his talents to Parkland.
Born and raised in Miami, he attended Southwest High School followed by the University of Miami. Growing up, he played the trombone, and after graduation, he tried life as a professional musician on the road, but it wasn’t for him.
Before his 13 years at Flanagan, Rivero spent ten years as Hialeah High School’s band director. When he received three job offers at the same time, he took it as a sign that it was time to move on.
His whole dream was to go back to school and teach college; however, when Rivero did the math, it didn’t make sense. He didn’t want to uproot his wife and children, so he chose his family.
In addition to his three young sons, Rivero has three older children from a previous marriage, one of whom, Robert, 24, will be working alongside him arranging music at Stoneman Douglas.
Rivero met his wife, Marlen, who plays clarinet in the Florida National Guard’s, 13th Army Band where he has served for 34 years. Marlen also works as a lieutenant for the police department in Miami Beach. This summer, the two are looking forward to traveling on a 15-day tour of Germany with the band.
As the commander and conductor of the band since 2010, Rivero feels like he has the best of both worlds- to serve and be a civilian high school band director as well.
Marlen said she would support him in his new position at MSD as long as he doesn’t try to do everything he wants to in one year.
“I want to provide the best for my students. And as a musician, she knows it takes a while to build.”
- Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She is currently a Senior Account Director at Lon Haber & Co., a leading full-service public relations firm. Fox worked at NBC Miami for eight years after graduating from the University of Miami. She lives in Parkland with her husband, Brian and two children.