- May 27, 2020
Kenneth Boyd, of West Orange High School, has been recognized by the Florida Bandmaster’s Association for his commitment to the performing arts program and his students’ successes. He earned the Oliver Hobbs Award for his excellence in leadership as a band director; he consistently directs his musicians to Superior performances at the district concert and Marching Music Performance Assessments.
“It certainly is a huge honor,” Boyd said. “Oliver Hobbs is one of the heroes of music education in Florida, and this award is quite prestigious. It means even more because I was nominated for this award by my peers in Orange County, whom I respect deeply. Lastly, I think it is a testament to the hard work and achievements of all my students through the years.
Boyd is no stranger to awards.
In 2017, the WOHS band program earned the Blue Ribbon Program of Excellence Award from the National Band Association.
Boyd was the 2018 WOHS Teacher of the Year and was a finalist for the Orange County Teacher of the Year. He has received the National Band Association’s Outstanding Jazz Educator Award and is a two-time recipient of the Kessler Grand Bohemian Scholarship Award.
In 2019, he started the West Orange Summer Music Camp for local elementary and middle school students.
In addition to leading the bands and orchestras at West Orange, Boyd performs on trumpet with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and the Brevard Symphony Orchestra and directs an ensemble for the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra.
Boyd’s career spans 23 years as a music educator.
A WINNING WARRIOR
Boyd began his WOHS career in 2007 when he was given the opportunity to work with an administrative team he respected and colleagues he admired.
“In addition, I really admired the work of the Lakeview (Middle School) band directors, Lisa Bujnicki and Melissa Ellis Westerman, who is the current band director at SunRidge Middle,” Boyd said. “I felt like we could do something special.”
What does Boyd love most about West Orange?
“Definitely the students and community,” he said. “Winter Garden is a special place that still maintains its small-town feel. The community takes pride in the school and all the programs. The students are a reflection of the community. You can see it in their work ethic, their pride in their school and their music programs, and their willingness to accept others. These wonderful students give me hope for all of our futures.”
The band director said he is motivated by the idea of growing his students’ world in life-changing opportunities — whether it is through taking trips to other countries, exposing them to music they haven’t before experienced or helping them see the world from a different perspective.
Being part of his students’ development from middle school into adulthood is rewarding, Boyd said.
“Watching students find their passion is truly rewarding,” he said. “Now, I also have the opportunity to teach my own children. My oldest, Garrett, is currently a sophomore at West Orange and my daughter Emma will be a freshman in the fall. Having them in the band program is rewarding on an entirely different level and an opportunity I am grateful for.”
Boyd said he owes is love of music to his high school band director, Bob Schaer.
“Mr. Schaer influenced my life in so many ways throughout my years,” he said. “He was a great mentor but also helped my family during so very difficult times. He definitely went above and beyond to care for me and so many others. He still inspires me to this day.”
Boyd likened himself to the “Green Eggs and Ham” character Sam-I-Am, who incessantly tries to get his friend to try green eggs and ham.
“This is exactly what it feels like to teach music because music is something we all consume and, therefore, have opinions,” he said. “Getting students to be open minded and try and learn new and different things can be difficult in the beginning — but extremely rewarding when they discover how large the world of music is.”
The Oliver Hobbs Award recognizes FBA members who have consistently done an exceptional job year after year in the position of band director.
The criteria for applying includes candidates must have been an FBA member for at least 15 years and currently serve as band director in Florida, they must regularly attend FBA district and state meetings, and they have to receive Superior ratings at least 75% of the time at the District Concert and Marching MPA’s.
The award is named for the former band director at Leon High School in Tallahassee who produced rare and exceptional bands year after year.
Boyd has had to shift his teaching style since the coronavirus pandemic began.
“COVID has changed a lot,” he said. “On the surface, we were/are limited in our marching activities, by the number of concerts we can have and the number of attendees at those concerts. We have to distance in the class and teach band to online students.
“While all of that seems tough, the real problem is the social/emotional wellness of our students,” Boyd said. “They cannot have the same type of social interactions we typically have in band and orchestra. Collaboration is difficult and sometimes impossible. So, we spend more time talking with students and simply making sure they are OK. They are amazing and resilient, but they, like all of us, need encouragement sometimes.
“Finding ways to integrate this into the classroom is difficult during COVID, but I hope it will make it even easier when we return to some sense of normalcy,” he said.