STORY BY RAE JEANNE ENRIQUEZ
McQueen orchestra teacher, Kenny Baker, has been recognized as one of the 2016 “50 Directors Who Make a Difference” by School Band and Orchestra Magazine.
Every year, SBO recognizes the talents of 50 exceptional music instructors from around the nation, one from each state. Mr. Baker was honored to represent the entire state of Nevada.
Current and former students, peers, parents, and other admirers submit nominations for the outstanding band and orchestra directors to receive the award. However, the person who submitted this nomination asked to remain anonymous, according to Mr. Baker.
This award came as a surprise, Mr. Baker said.
“There’s some part of me that feels like I don’t deserve it,” Mr. Baker said. “But, it’s rewarding when I put in a lot of time and effort in school to have this kind of recognition.”
His students think he is well-deserving of this honor because of the hard work and determination he gives each day.
“There’s never a day that goes by in class where you don’t see Baker putting 100% into orchestra,” sophomore Jackie Vallo said.
He cares about his students and does what he can to ensure that his students succeed, sophomore Tyler Gordon said.
In fact, Mr. Baker has helped influence the career path of some of his students.
“I’m going to be a music education major, like following Mr. Baker’s footsteps. He has really inspired me to become a teacher,” senior Alice Benedict said. “He’s just such a great teacher and a great guy. He makes us work to our full potential and he doesn’t see anything less in anybody else. He inspires people and I want to inspire people.”
In the same way, his students motivate him to work harder as well.
“McQueen students are different from all of the rest because they come into rehearsal every single day wanting to learn something new,” Mr. Baker said. “If I fail to teach the students something new, or fail to improve their playing, I have failed those students. So not only am I able to challenge my students, they challenge me to be a better teacher for them.”
Being a part of orchestra has shaped the lives of the students in terms of connecting with their peers.
“A sense of community is really nice. I feel like I have a second family in orchestra,” Benedict said.
“My favorite part about being in orchestra is the bond that the orchestra holds. You meet new people with the same interests and from there you grow a connection with the orchestra as a whole,” Vallo said.
As an orchestra teacher, he is exceptionally proud of his students’ achievements and strong passion for music.
“I know our future is in good hands because I work with our future every day,” Baker stated in the SBO article. “My students take time out of their everyday lives to improve their craft during class, in after school rehearsals, performances, and practicing independently in order to present a product to their families and friends.”
Down the road, he plans to expand McQueen’s guitar program, strengthen the orchestra even further, and make another appearance at the National Orchestra Festival in the next five years. According to Baker, McQueen is currently the only orchestra to have performed at the National Orchestra Festival, which has been done twice– once in 2010 and the other in 2015.
Mr. Baker will be honored by the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees during the Spotlight on Success ceremony on February 7 at Reed High School.
Congratulations to Mr. Baker for this outstanding achievement!
For more information about Mr. Baker and the other award winners, check out the SBO article: