As the fall semester comes to an end, Apache Band Director Tom Mensch will take a “leap of faith” from TJC to become a full-time minister at Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler. He says he is satisfied with his work at TJC, but feels God is calling him in a different direction.
“God’s clearly called me to be in full time ministry at my church, and I can’t say no,” said Mensch, who has attended Green Acres for over two years.
Mensch will be the church’s minister of music, charged with organizing the church orchestra.
“It’s a great opportunity to be able to minister faith to people that are involved in music,” said Mensch.
Mensch has been at TJC for 11 years. He started his career as the director of the Apache band in fall of 2003. Mensch has a strong, positive relationship with the band students.
“I’ve always tried to make them feel like they have a home away from home and a place to belong, and that’s worth any sacrifice and time that it takes,” said Mensch. “The only way you can do that is really investing in individual students as much as you can. It goes beyond the marching field and making sure all the right notes are happening and everybody’s in the right spot. It’s deeper than that. For the last 11 years, I’ve really tried to invest as much as I can into each individual life.
The students of the Apache band have been deeply impacted upon by Mensch, in their lives as well as their music. Mensch expressed interests in the students’ school work, home life and how they are feeling and doing overall.
“Mr. Mensch has been a huge influence on a lot of the band students,” said clarinet player Samantha Thompson. “He has helped a lot more of us than he may realize. From giving us tips about how to get through college and be successful to giving us tips about life. He has made a huge impact here at TJC, and I know that wherever he goes they will be blessed to have him.”
The other band members expressed similar views.
“Mr. Mensch is a great man, as well as a friend that I have the utmost respect for,” said tuba player Brad Gerberich. “He has not just been a band director; he has taught all of us in the Apache band life values that we will use outside of the band hall. I think I can speak for the entire band when I say he will be missed greatly.”
Mensch said he will miss his band students, as well as TJC in general.
“There’s a lot of things I’m gonna miss about the college: the students, my colleagues and friends that I’ve been able to work with for the last 11 years,”said Mensch. “But you know, there’s a large extent that I feel very content that I know where I’m supposed to be. I just have a confidence and a deep rooted faith that I’m going where I need to be going.”
Mensch said he looks forward to seeing how the apache band grows outside of his hands. He is excited for the band itself to be able to experience a new leader with a fresh vision.
“I feel like the college is very supportive of the band program,” he said. “I feel like they’ve got a healthy vision for what they want this band program to become, and I really feel like they’re gonna support the next person into more than maintaining; they’re going to allow it to flourish and turn into an amazing aspect of the college. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity … but I won’t be out of touch, that’s for sure.”