Award hits high note for local music teacher

Feeling the beat, Humbolt Elementary School music teacher Louise Kienzle and her students dance the Hokey Pokey as they sing. From left are kindergarteners, Meika Perreira, Carly Thompson and Amelia Hall. Kienzle received the prestigious OMEA Elementary Music Education Award Jan. 15.

EUGENE – Louise Kienzle, music teacher at Humbolt Elementary School in Canyon City, has won a state music education award.

She received a plaque for the 2011 Excellence in Elementary Music Education Award on Jan. 15, at the Oregon Music Educators Association State Conference in Eugene.

Kienzle teaches music to grades kindergarten through fifth at Humbolt.

“It always feels good to be acknowledged for what you do,” she said, “but I don’t feel like I do more than other teachers. All teachers put in extra efforts to help their kids. I feel that my job is to expose them to lots of different kinds of music and ways that music is expressed.”

Children taught by Kienzle at Humbolt do have a variety of musical opportunities, including performing in the yearly Dr. Seuss Day musical event in March and the Voices for Africa program in April last year. Kienzle was instrumental in bringing the world-renowned musical group Synergy to Humbolt last April and she also directs the annual Christmas program.

Kienzle introduces a new song to her students weekly, each one featuring a different genre of music.

Kienzle’s connection with music continues outside the classroom.

After school she volunteers time directing the Grant County Children’s Choir, twice a week at the United Methodist Church.

She spearheads the Eastern Oregon Children’s Choir Festival held yearly at Eastern Oregon University with help from Peter Wordleman, choral director and music professor at EOU.

She’s also a 14-year member of the local Juniper Singers group and is president of the Juniper Arts Council, an organization that promotes the arts in Grant County.

Kienzle’s nomination for the award came from Holly Bentz of John Day.

All of her five children have had Kienzle for a music teacher.

Bentz says she feels that music is an important subject for children to have in school for their overall success as students.

“I think the fact that she is willing to go above and beyond to make sure that kids have more opportunities in music deserves recognition,” Bentz said. “To put together a choir on your volunteer time with third- through eighth-graders – to me that’s huge. That’s something that not just anybody would be willing or able to do.”

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