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Knedler named National Federation of High Schools Outstanding Music Educator

Kelly Knedler didn’t decide to become a music teacher until his senior year in high school. 

“Up to that point, I was planning on being an Earth Science teacher and football coach,” Knedler said.  “But I had an awesome vocal music teacher in high school and realized I wanted to act and be a musician.”

Anyone who knows Knedler, knows he made the right decision.  Recently that decision earned him yet another award:  the 2017 National Federation of High Schools Outstanding Music Educator Award.  The award was presented at the Kansas Music Educators Association Conference (KMEA).

“It means a lot to me,” Knedler said of the honor.  “I know several people who have won it before me are very talented leaders and teachers.”

Knedler became involved with KMEA when asked to be the Southwest KMEA Choral Chairperson.  After a couple of years, he was asked to put his name in for SW KMEA President.

“I was a little nervous about that,” Knedler said.  “But during that time, many doors opened up for me.  I’m not sure why I get these opportunities but I just try to approach everything from the aspect of, ‘I’ve got a job to do so how do I get it done?’

Knedler said the most rewarding part of his job is when students begin to truly understand music and the rewards it can deliver to your emotions.

“There are two main parts of music.  There is the part where you learn the notes and the part where you add the nuances,” Knedler said.  “I love to see when students first can sing the notes, but I really love to see where they can take the music through perfecting their tone, dynamics, stylistic markings, the feelings of the piece, and the end result.”

Knedler thinks music is an important part of education because it’s both physical and mental.

“It evokes something most other subjects do not….emotion,” he said.  “Music is a discipline that involves your emotions on a daily basis.  We ask students to put themselves in the place of another and assume the emotion of a piece of music.  It allows students to move themselves emotional from one place to another.”

Knedler has been in the district twice, once from 1997-1999 and then serving as the DCHS Choral Music Director, Musical Director, Department Chair and PLC Facilitator since his return in 2004.

“Dodge City High School is known throughout the state for its outstanding Fine Arts Programs.  Part of this reputation is a result of the fact our students consistently perform very well in state contests.  Another major factor, however, is that our directors are actively engaged in working with their colleagues throughout the state to support and encourage the arts in all school settings,” Principal Jacque Feist said.  “Kelly Knedler has been actively engaged for the past several years in leadership roles with KMEA and as a result of these experiences, he has grown tremendously in his own role as a director.”

Knedler has served as the M.C. at DCHS pep assemblies since 2004.  He was also the color analyst as the Voice of the Red Demons for 10 years.  He’s the announcer for football, baseball, basketball and soccer for both DCHS and Dodge City Middle School and the auditorium light and sound expert.

“I am very excited for Mr. Knedler and the students in the DCHS Choral Program, as this award is a result of the work both he and his students have done and shared with our community through their performances,” Feist said.

Knedler graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Music and a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from the University of Arkansas. 

“I want to thank all of the mentors and students I have had during my learning and career,” Knedler said.  “I have learned from all of them and when I learn, it helps my students learn more easily.

Yvonda Offerle