FFHS Assistant Principal Dennis Reaser Retires
... After a career spanning 51 years


After a career spanning 51 years, First Flight High School Assistant Principal Dennis Reaser is retiring on January 31, 2015. The past 10 ½ years have been spent with Dare County Schools. He was a member of the US Navy Band and had served as a band director at East Carolina University.

First Flight High School Principal, Arty Tillet said, “Dennis Reaser has been a real asset to First Flight High School and Dare County Schools.  He is going to be missed.”

He started out in 1964 as band director of Macedonia High School in South Carolina followed by a couple of years at DuPont High School in West Virginia. It was in 1969 that he settled into the role for which he is probably most remembered - that of band director of Andrew Lewis High, and subsequently Salem High School near Roanoke, Virginia – where he led the high school jazz band, concert band, and marching band.  He stayed with the Salem school system until 2001. By that time he had also served as summer school principal for Salem High.

During part of this time he played and fronted a professional orchestra, the Dennis Reaser Orchestra, which Reaser says, “was pretty big time.” The orchestra was a professional group that played at 5 star hotels and backed some big stars. “It was a heavy duty moonlight job,” admits Reaser. “I have no idea how I survived it!”Reaser recounts that his orchestra played for many big stars, like Red Skelton, Bob Hope, and Shirley Jones.

His retirement from Salem was marked by a huge gala at the Salem Civic Center on a day dubbed "Dennis Reaser Day" by the City of Salem. “After that memorable affair, it took about 30 minutes to decide that retirement was not for me. I took the key to the city with which Council had presented me and unlocked a completely new couple of chapters. I filled the role of band director at Hargrave Military Academy for three years before landing in Kill Devil Hills and First Flight High School, where I’ve been assistant principal for the immediate past ten and a half years.”

By calculations, the preceding amounts to a total of 51 years, give or take a semester, spent building band and young characters. 

Few would disagree that Reaser is a one-of-a-kind character. He has been a father figure to a great number of kids and has touched thousands of lives with his unique approach to problem-solving.

“Dennis Reaser is enthusiastic, visionary, focused, and committed to excellence.  Since First Flight High School opened in 2004, he has promoted excitement and challenge, as well as knowledge and discipline.  He actively seeks and is alert to potential learning situations, and he willingly accepts opportunities that are demanding.  He is proactive and persistent and has been successful because he genuinely accepts no alternative to success.   He is not self-serving or self-centered; he is self-motivated and self-reliant.  A man of extraordinary moral fiber and professional acumen, Dennis Reaser is the consummate educator with an insatiable yearning to do what’s best for FFHS students, teachers, and staff. He will be seriously missed,” voiced FFHS Assistant Principal Caroline Pearce.

Reaser regards himself as a lifelong learner; he says he’ll never stop growing as a person. Next on his list - maybe a career as a composer. Whatever he does, to be sure it will be done with his characteristic enthusiasm.

Click here for the FFHS students Hunter Stokes and Mac McClary video take on Reaser.