Alumnus Curtis Nightingale is a rockin’ superintendent

Sep 13, 2023
Curtis Nightingale, 2001 Newman alumnus
Curtis Nightingale, 2001 Newman alumnus

On a recent episode of “The Newman Bond” podcast, Daniel Murphy, Newman University’s web technology specialist, chatted with musician and 2001 alumnus Curtis Nightingale about his journey since graduation and reminisced on their connections.

On the podcast, Nightingale shared that he chose to attend Newman because at the time, he was working in law enforcement in an undercover capacity but wanted to earn his teaching certificate. With a crazy schedule, he knew he needed an education that would provide him with flexibility. Enter Newman’s accelerated program.

Video: Curtis Nightingale (Alumni Spotlight) – “The Newman Bond”

“If it hadn’t been for that program, I don’t know if I would have completed the program at all or if it would’ve just taken me forever to get done,” he said. 

Today, Nightingale works as superintendent for the Nickerson-South Hutchinson School District. He also moonlights as lead guitarist for an ’80s rock cover band called Gods of Wrath and a more established band called Bootleg Mercy, which started as a ’90s cover band but quickly evolved.

“During the pandemic when everything shut down and nobody was playing anywhere, we sat down and started writing our own material, got in the studio and recorded,” Nightingale explained. “We’ve experienced a little bit of success with that overseas in terms of album sales, streams, videos and radio interview requests.”

Bootleg Mercy was even runner-up for one European radio station’s Best International Rock Band awards. The band is currently nominated for two Josie Music Awards as well, which honor the independent music industry, and will travel to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville for the awards ceremony in October. 

Nightingale shared that as superintendent, it’s fun to visit his school buildings and hear a teacher pull up one of the band’s songs on YouTube as he walks by. 

Nightingale (left) plays guitar during a concert with fellow members from his band, Bootleg Mercy.
Nightingale (left) plays guitar during a concert with fellow members of his band, Bootleg Mercy.

He also recalled a show he played in recent years where some of his students were in the crowd with their parents. Afterward, he remembered signing autographs and taking pictures. 

“Those kids were standing in line with their parents and they’re kind of awestruck — ‘You’re Mr. Nightingale, right?’” he said. “That’s a cool opportunity and gives me a chance to connect with those kids.”

Nightingale was a three-sport athlete in high school and active in vocal music classes and musicals. 

“[I can help] break some of those barriers down for kids that maybe feel like they’re pigeon-holed. Like, if I’m a band kid, I’m a band geek and I can’t also be cool, or I can’t be an athlete,” he said. “But we can cross those boundaries.” 

During their podcast episode, Nightingale and Murphy also discussed the many ways their paths have crossed over the past few years. 

Most recently, Murphy shot band photos for Gods of Wrath at a small pub. After, he and Nightingale caught up.

“During our conversation, I brought up my day job at Newman University as a web developer and that sometimes I get to run around with a camera,” Murphy said. “He mentioned his career as a school superintendent and that he was a graduate from Newman’s MSED program. He said he even received an award a few years back.”

Nightingale was the Beata Netemeyer Service Award winner from Newman University in 2019.
Nightingale was the Beata Netemeyer Service Award winner from Newman University in 2019.

Murphy continued, “The lightbulb in my head radiated the room. This is the same Curtis Nightingale who was awarded the Beata Netemeyer Service Award during the Newman Awards Banquet in 2019. I know this because I took his congratulatory award photo! I told him that I was there, and he was just as blown away.”

Murphy has also photographed a few of Bootleg Mercy’s shows throughout the past year, as well as a live music video during one of their bigger shows at the Tony’s Pizza Arena in Salina when they opened up for Hairball. 

“I’m very thankful to be considered their go-to guy for media for such a gifted band,” Murphy said.  

To hear more from Murphy and Nightingale, check out their episode on “The Newman Bond.” 

All episodes of ‘The Newman Bond’

With episodes ranging from scientific research and the art of costuming to book reviews and sports icons, there’s something for everyone on “The Newman Bond” podcast.