Baldwin music teachers shine
Baldwin has a rather elite group of music teachers.
The district's three music teachers have all served on the board of the Kansas Music Educators Association at one time or another, something which is a rarity.
"It's extremely unusual," Jodie Eldridge, junior high and high school vocal music teacher, said. "I think it speaks very highly of Baldwin's music program."
KMEA is an organization in which Kansas music teachers are able to attend conventions, make contacts with other teachers, hear performances by students across the state and gain access to instructional materials and techniques.
"It gives you many good opportunities to confer with your colleagues," Eldridge said.
KMEA board members are responsible for the organization of events and all the responsibilities that go with it.
Will Cooper, Baldwin's junior high and high school band teacher, is completing his term as the northeast district KMEA president. He served two years as president, two years as president elect and will serve two years as past president.
As the northeast district president, Cooper is responsible for helping arrange state board meetings, district board meetings, two conventions and a number of other duties.
"I see a lot of my job as a facilitator," he said. "A lot of it is planning."
Elementary music teacher Jocelyn Leonard recently completed her two-year term as the northeast district's elementary choir chair.
Leonard was responsible for organizing and preparing for the elementary honors choir at the district's mini-convention.
When Eldridge was teaching in Independence, Kan., she was a choral chair and president of the southeast district, as well as state president for KMEA.
Eldridge said while she considered serving on the KMEA board an obligation, she also thought it made her better as a teacher, which in turn helped her students.
"I always considered it a benefit to me and my students," she said. "Music hasn't always been a priority with schools. I thought I'd do anything I could to encourage our music programs."
Leonard agreed she has become a better teacher after getting involved in KMEA.
"I think it helps me raise the bar for myself and my kids' performance wise," she said.
Serving on a KMEA board is not required of music teachers, which Cooper said makes Baldwin look good as a district with three teachers having been board members.
"It's good for our schools. It helps our kids," he said. "It's a feather in our cap. I think it's a good calling card for our schools and our community. We're out within the state, we're out within the community. It shows our programs are vibrant."
"It gives you visibility and credibility with other teachers in the state," she said.
The involvement of Baldwin's music teachers in the state music organization, she said, shows the level of commitment they have to their profession.
"I think it speaks to the dedication of the Baldwin staff," she said. "I feel fortunate to be working with such a professional group of colleagues here in Baldwin."