Jina with a “J” was born and raised in South Hill, Virginia, where she grew up listening, singing, and dancing along to all sorts of music. Ironically, one of her favorite songs, “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley, played on the radio on the way to our interview. It is one of her favorite songs because “it does not matter how rough your day has been or what you are going through, if that song plays, you can’t help but smile!” Her role model has always been Reba McEntire due to her all-around great personality and Reba also ranks first place when it comes to Jina’s favorite concerts. However, Jina’s favorite music memories are of her time spent performing with her father’s band, The Midnight Movers. One moment in particular that stood out to her was when she was eight years old at a huge July 4th gathering as she sang Cyndi Lauper’s part in “We Are The World” in front of thousands of people.
Music was Jina’s first love, but her second love came along when she met her husband in 1997. After graduating from James Madison University in 1998, she moved to his hometown, Andrews, South Carolina. Jina immediately started teaching music in the area and has been working at Sampit Elementary since 2000. A few years ago, she became the Fine Arts Liaison for all of the Georgetown County K-12 schools. This role means that Jina is the voice for all of the music and art teachers and is their connection to the school district. Across the nation, especially in rural areas, the music and arts courses fall behind when it comes to funding and recognition. These areas of education have to constantly prove their importance, so it is certainly fortunate that our county has the passion of Jina Narron to help our fine arts programs thrive.
“Thanks to covid-19, I think it has come to light just how important being creative is because the world of arts is what got most of us through the pandemic. We listened to music, watched movies, worked on some arts and crafts and DIY house projects. I think it made more people realize that the fine arts are all around us and that we can’t live without them,” stated Jina. The children of our local Title One schools do not often get the opportunity to participate in enrichment programs, play music, or even see live music. Thanks to the partnership of the Bunnelle Foundation and the Pawleys Island Festival of Music and Art (PIFMA), Sampit Elementary will have a free, after-school violin program beginning this fall. PIFMA is excited to fund this outreach program for the students and finally bring the Sampit Strings Program to life. Jina explained her enthusiasm, “When you put an instrument in a child’s hands, oh my gosh, the excitement just to see them play around with it – it’s just fabulous. I cannot wait to see what this program has in store for our students at Sampit.”
As a teacher, every year being a fresh start excites her. When the teachers return in the fall, the rooms have been wiped clean and they get to unload all of their boxes they packed up as if they were moving it all out, so every year when they walk into the freshly waxed floor on day one, they get to re-invent their classroom again. She enjoys the first couple of weeks the most as she gets to learn about her students and watch them become friends with one another. She is extra excited to get back to school this year and to a new “normal” as the pandemic affected teachers and students in a complicated way. Simple things even became an issue such as not being able to share instruments or supplies and sanitizing everything in between classes. Having to keep her little ones six feet apart was not conducive to bonding and small group learning like they were all used to. Some things that were forced to change were great because it led them to find new, more creative ways to do things that the kids enjoyed, but the kids having a chance to show off what they have learned and worked so hard on all year was not one of them. Christmas time was a little gloomy for the students as they were not able to put on a show for their parents like they have done every year to display their accomplishments.
Live performances are an art form that many missed out on last year, but Jina especially missed it. Not only did she miss out on her students performing and directing musicals, but she also missed getting to watch her own children perform who are eleven and sixteen. Similar to their mom, Jina’s two daughters both sing and dance. They even dance competitively with The Studio: Center for the Performing Arts, where Jina is the secretary on the board for their nonprofit, Friends of Dance. Jina’s eldest daughter plays the guitar, ukulele, and piano, and the younger daughter is learning to read music and play the piano. Jina primarily sings and plays the piano but she dabbled with the saxophone when she was younger because her father played it, and it is still her favorite instrument. The Narron ladies love to harmonize.
Jina is enjoying life the most when she is performing because when she is on stage, all of life’s stresses simply go away. Even though she does not get to perform as often as she would like, watching her girls perform is just as sweet. As of last year, Jina and her girls get to perform together at their church as the praise band every other Sunday. Their time spent practicing and performing together as a family brings Jina so much happiness. The entire family is musical, even her husband can sing. With the busy lives they lead, Jina’s family does not often go out to eat, so when they do, it is extra special which is another one of Jina’s simple pleasures.
Besides performing and family, Jina also enjoys life the most when it involves a girls’ night. She loves catching up, laughing, dancing to live music, or even just having some coffee by a fire with her girlfriends. Jina is able to be the best wife, dance mom, and music teacher because she understands how to keep her priorities straight when it comes to life’s purpose and the art of enjoying it.