February 05, 2014 - Dozens of middle school and junior high students are honored every year for their musical achievements – this year, it's their teacher's turn.
Shelley Roland (click for larger version)
Shelley Roland was selected as the Michigan Band and Orchestra Association's Band Teacher of the Year.
"It really is an honor," Roland said. "I'm humbled by it. It's so special. It really is."
She was selected for the top honor out of six nominations from the 32 district award winners, from MSBOA's 16 districts throughout the state.
"I know the other nominees, they deserve to win too," Roland said.
As teacher of the year, she will serve as assistant director at Michigan Youth Arts Festival in May at Western Michigan University, at the opening gala concert Saturday.
This is her 11th year teaching in Clarkston, and her 32nd year teaching. She taught for 19 years at Marlette Community Schools in the thumb.
"In Marlette, I was the band and choir director on my own - here, there's a whole crew," Roland said. "I'm blessed to work with outstanding colleagues, directors, music teachers who share similar goals. We have high expectations for students and one another."
Her responsibilities include directing four bands and a choir at Sashabaw Middle School, serving as an assistant director of the Clarkston High School Marching Band, and directing the CHS Clarinet Choir.
"At Sashabaw Middle School, there are a lot of firsts at that level. They're learning what it means to be a musician, constantly in awe of making music," she said. "Seeing young musicians accomplish their goals and learn to love music can be doggone motivating."
The young musicians learn tone production, how to listen to one another, read rhythm, articulate tone or slur, build endurance, skill sets, and confidence, she said.
"They get better at what they're doing – it's very exciting," she said.
Roland also leads Clarkston Community Band, open to all musicians including those from the high school.
"It's a wonderful, hard working group of very dedicated musicians," she said.
She enjoys marching band because it gives students a chance to get back together.
"At Marlette, students were together from fifth grade through high school," she said. "Here, in a larger district, they get split into different bands, but they're all together again in marching band - it's fun."
Her goals are to continue to teach with energy and passion, as well as advocate for music in schools.
"It's hard for students to stay enrolled in choral and music, with all the demands on their schedule," she said, "I'm always advocating for programs for younger kids, so they can interact with middle school and high school musicians."
She has three children, Bayne (Sarah), Megan (Greg), and Meredith (Tim), and grandchildren Gabe, Lily, Isabel, Madison, Lawson, Andie, Sophie, Will, and Sawyer.
Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.