Middle School Teacher of the Year is “Music To Our Ears”

By: Sherri Love

The Ashland Beacon



   McKell Middle School music teacher, Steffanie Skiles, has been named the Kentucky Music Educators Association (KMEA) District 8 Middle School Teacher of the Year. The award covers all middle school music/band/choir/orchestra teachers in public or independent schools in District 8, which represents five counties in northeastern Kentucky. She was nominated by one of her colleagues at a recent meeting for the successful impact that she has quickly made on the band and choir departments at McKell Middle School in her first two years of teaching. 

   “I am so excited and honored to be given this award. I’m just beginning my third year of teaching, and I could’ve never received this recognition without the help from so many people; other teachers, faculty and staff and the hard work and dedication from our students. It really is a group effort by all of us to enhance the programs at our school and grow the enrollment and excitement in our music and choir departments as we have,” said Skiles. 

   Skiles attended Boyd County High School and graduated from Morehead State University. “In high school, I was always focused on my grades and the honors programs, and honestly don’t know what I would’ve done with music present in my life. Not that academics didn’t excite me, but the attitudes in the music department were always so positive that it helped me cope and sort of balance everything out. I knew from then on that I wanted to be involved in music and major in it in college. Teaching music just seemed natural because I could be involved with music every day and could impact and influence students with it as well. I can't imagine where I'd be without music," said Skiles. 

   Skiles teaches all band and general music classes at McKell Elementary and is in charge of the sixth, seventh and eighth-grade band, and the sixth through eighth-grade choir, which performs often at community events. Enrollment has increased for all three of these departments from the previous few years. Skiles also enjoys working with Greenup County's High School band director, Chris Milvy, who is also Skiles' classmate from college. Milvy comes to McKell Middle School weekly for classes and practice. "We know that by working together we can grow interest in our entire county's music department which is the ultimate goal after all. We both have a huge passion to create the same excitement and involvement for the Music programs that Greenup County was known for back in the 80s under the direction of Band Director, Terry Thompson,” said Skiles. 

   Students have to take a general music class in order to fulfill a Humanities credit requirement in middle school. This is a chance to make a musical impact on each middle school student. “All of our students are always welcome to join our band or the choir. I always tell the students, Band and Choir is not like most S\sports; students never have to worry about there being too many involved, not making the team, or "sitting the bench."   As long as the student is willing to put in the time and come to practice, then they can participate and be a part of it. I'm excited about the future of our department at our school and am honored to be a part of it and to receive this wonderful recognition," said Skiles. Ms. Skiles will be formally recognized at the KMEA state conference in February 2020.