Congratulations to Shelton’s Instrumental Music Teacher Ken Utz for winning the CHADD’S ADHD Educator of the Year Award. CHADD, which stands for Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, is an organization that seeks to improve the lives of people affected by ADHD.
Ken has worked at Shelton since 2003 with the Upper Elementary, Middle School and Upper School Band students. He began working with Lower School and Upper Elementary General Music in 2014. Ken is a recipient of Shelton’s SPARK (Shelton Parents’ Association Recognition Kudos) Award for the 2020-2021 school year.
In addition to his time at Shelton, Ken is the Vice President of the Music Learning Band Program where he works closely with Jerry Bishop and their team providing instrumental, vocal and general music programs to more than 40 different schools across the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and Eastern Arizona.
Ken says his educational philosophy is to do no harm, make music a little better and help students get a little better each day. “I believe that each student can improve every day and that improvement is an individual accomplishment. Each student’s improvement may not be the same, but he or she can leave our classroom a little more confident about something than when they entered.”
He says that working with the youngest students has helped the whole music team create a full curriculum arc for music throughout a Shelton student’s journey. “Music at Shelton is tactile and experiential,” he says. “Our students learn by physically playing the instruments, especially recorder, xylophone, drums and wind instruments. For the ADHD student, this approach involves their whole body. We also learn how to read music gradually, using strategies like color coding for younger students on the same music they read as they get older. We tap our foot to the beat and count out loud to learn complex rhythms. From ages 3-18, we are using our bodies to experience music."
Thanks in part to Ken’s instruction and leadership, many Shelton Band members have gone on to study music in college. “Not every student leaves Shelton wanting to study music, but they do leave with an appreciation of music,” Ken says.
“Ken is truly a remarkable person and outstanding educator,” says Shelton Executive Director Suzanne Stell. “His dedication to so many young people is truly overwhelming. There is not anything that I ask Ken to do for Shelton that he doesn’t do with 120 percent enthusiasm. Our students follow his lead. They are inspired by Ken. He is an unbelievable role model for our students and an inspiration to me. His days are very long with before-school band, after-school band and evenings and Saturdays filled with band, and he does it all with a smile on his face. Ken makes everyone around him better.”
Ken is a graduate of the University of North Texas, graduating Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Music. While at North Texas, Ken was a member of the Concert Band, many Jazz Bands including the 5:00 Lab Band and the Catholic Campus Music Ministry. An Eagle Scout, Ken is a Vigil Honor Member of the Order of the Arrow and previously served as the Staff Director and Camp Director of Circle Ten Council’s Winter Camp at Camp Trevor Rees Jones.
Ken and his wife Haley have three children, Kenny, Natalie, and Meghan. Kenny is a sixth-grade Shelton student and member of after-school band and drumline. Ken is an active member of Christ the King Catholic Church where he serves as a Lector and Usher.