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Saskatoon Public Schools
Inspiring Learning

Music teachers recognized for contributions to education, leadership

November 05, 2019

Helms 425x325.jpgFour Saskatoon Public Schools teachers were recognized for their commitment to music education and student learning with awards during the recent Saskatchewan Music Conference.

Kara Helms, an elementary band teacher who is currently serving as the division's arts consultant, received the Saskatchewan Music Educators Association (SMEA) Outstanding Achievement Award for her ongoing dedication to excellence in music and professional leadership.

The Canadian Music Educators' Association/Acme Builders' Award was presented to Michael Kurpjuweit of Brunskill School, while Justin La of Lakeridge School received the Builders' Award for Newer Teachers. Janet Weaver, a teacher at Chief Whitecap School, received the Sylvia Yam Award of Teaching Excellence from the Saskatchewan Orff chapter.

Helms was honoured for her contributions to the elementary band programs and her leadership with the provincial organization.  Her 17-year teaching career began with the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division and continued with Saskatoon Public Schools band programs at Greystone Heights, College Park and Brunskill schools. Her current role as educational consultant sees Helms provide leadership for the division's arts and gifted education programs and create professional learning opportunities for teachers throughout the division.

She has served as president of SMEA and took on many roles at the association's regional level. She is involved with band and organizational planning committees and served as honour groups' band coordinator. She is currently serving a second term as director of communications for the Canadian Music Educators' Association.

Kurpjuweit_news.jpgKurpjuweit's award recognizes individuals who advance music education through building community or through their collaborative efforts. Kurpjuweit, who teaches elementary band and kindergarten to Grade 5 music at Brunskill, has developed partnership opportunities that see students perform as part of Music Monday events and at an annual jazz night that brings elementary, high school and professional bands together on the same bill.

He has led professional development opportunities on topics including the intersection of music and technology, teacher communication and general music education. Kurpjuweit has also been involved in volunteer roles with the Saskatchewan Band Association and he coordinates the band program for the annual Saskatoon Music Festival.

La_news.jpgLa, who teaches band and music at Lakeridge, is a 2016 graduate of the University of Saskatchewan Department of Music. He was involved in several bands and choral ensembles during his undergraduate years and served as president of the Association of Student Musicians. He sings in a barbershop quartet, Doo-ly Noted, and directs the youth acapella group Acoustic Theory as well as the well-known Chimo Chordsmen, a men's acapella/barbershop group.

Weaver_news.jpgWeaver was honoured for the way her work embraces childhood music making through the Orff method of instruction, which uses a holistic approach to music education. As a teacher, Weaver offers a multicultural program of music, drama and dance to students at Chief Whitecap. She is co-president of the Saskatchewan Orff Chapter and serves as an organist, accompanist, choir director and recorder player outside of her teaching role. 

The Saskatchewan Music Conference is hosted by the Saskatchewan Music Educators Association and the Carl ORFF Canada - Saskatchewan Chapter.