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Announcing the 2019 Recipients of the Brent Cannon Award

At the 2017 National Convention, the Kappa Kappa Psi Alumni Association Board of Directors established the “Brent Cannon Music Education Alumni Achievement Award” to recognize brothers for outstanding achievement in the field of music education at the secondary level.

Brent Cannon, Life Member of the Gamma Phi Chapter at Stephen F. Austin State University, taught band in East Texas Junior High Schools and High Schools for over 30 years. During that time, and then into retirement, he continued serving Kappa Kappa Psi in various fraternal leadership roles.

In 2019, the Kappa Kappa Psi Alumni Association Board of Directors is pleased to announce the inaugural class of Brent Cannon Music Education Alumni Achievement Award recipients. 

Jason Morris

Iota Lambda Chapter, University of Mount Union

In his eleventh year at Upper Sandusky, Jason Morris’ duties as Director of Instrumental Music include the Marching Ram Band, Symphonic Band, Pep Band, and Bleu Midnight (the USHS jazz band) as well as the beginning bands at East and South.

Mr. Morris has received numerous awards during his tenure at Upper Sandusky, beginning with the inclusion in the 2011 edition of Who’s Who in America and followed by Outstanding Service to Education Award through the Upper Sandusky Education Association in 2012. He has been nominated by students for the Grammy Music Educator Award in 2015 and 2017 and most recently was elected for membership in the American School Band Directors Association in 2018. In addition Upper Sandusky has been awarded the Best Community for Music Education Designation by the NAMM foundation for the past 6 years due in large part to the tireless contributions of Jason Morris. The Upper Sandusky School District’s band program is a solid one that has earned the title The Pride of Upper Sandusky!

One nominator said: I first met Jason Morris in 2010 when we played at Upper Sandusky on a Friday night. I was blown away with not only the playing ability of his band, but the spirit of the students. His band performed with such passion and energy, I knew something special was going on in Upper Sandusky.

Another submitted: Mr. Morris is a rare educator who can inspire and build strong work ethics, yet have no ego and use an incredible sense of humor to get results from his students.

Mr. Morris continues to lead the music program at Upper Sandusky, is a music advocate in the classroom and community and has been known to take money from his music budget to make sure that the Instrumental, Choral and General Music departments have all the supplies and or equipment necessary to help students succeed in the classroom.

Peter Perry

Gamma Xi Chapter, University of Maryland, College Park

Peter Perry has a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Music Education from Shenandoah Conservatory, as well as both a Master’s Degree in Music Education- Instrumental Conducting Concentration and a Bachelor of Science Degree- Instrumental Music Education from the University of Maryland. Dr. Perry is in his 22nd year as the Instrumental Music Director at Richard Montgomery in Rockville, Maryland. At Richard Montgomery, he teaches five ensembles—two bands, two orchestras, and a jazz ensemble—and a music technology course. In addition, Dr. Perry teaches Marching Band and Pit Orchestra after school and also serves as an adjudicator and clinician across the state of Maryland. In 2006, Dr. Perry received a Japan Fulbright fellowship and participated in the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program.

Dr. Perry’s nomination by Victoria Liu, who is also Dr. Perry’s former student, was supported by letters of recommendation from Mr. Damon Monteleone, Principal of Richard Montgomery, and Mr. Ronald Frezzo, retired Richard Montgomery Choral Director and Dr. Perry’s colleague of 21 years. Dr. Perry’s ensembles have consistently received Superior ratings at the local and state levels and, according to Principal Monteleone, the ensembles’ performances “look, feel, and sound as if I am in the presence of professional musicians.” Principal Monteleone lauded Dr. Perry’s approach to teaching with “the energy of a rookie, and the wisdom of a sage” and stated that Dr. Perry is “the type of teacher all parents want their children to have [and] the type of educator we should all strive to be.” Mr. Frezzo noted that from the start of Dr. Perry’s career, he “immediately started growing the [music] program” and even taught a voluntary overload one year “to offer the students the courses to which he believes they should have access.” Dr. Perry is “no ordinary teacher,” according to Mr. Frezzo, but rather “someone always striving to learn more for the benefit of his students.”

Ms. Liu concluded with a personal reflection of Dr. Perry’s impact on her life both personally and professionally, noting that Dr. Perry served as a valued mentor and sponsor on her behalf. She also praised Dr. Perry’s ability to encourage students to step outside of their comfort zone; for her, Dr. Perry supported her desire to step into her first ever leadership positions. These first steps into leadership gave her the necessary experiences, both positive and negative, to become an effective leader today. Ms. Liu emphasized that no matter what profession Dr. Perry’s students pursue as adults, they would benefit from emulating Dr. Perry’s example of giving his best efforts to everything he does.

Matt Stanley

Alpha Delta Chapter, Ohio University

Matt Stanley has served as the Band Director at Washington High School for the past 22 years. During that time Matt has built the Blue Lion band program from approximately 20 members to approximately 150 students participating each year; no small feat for a school of around 550 students. Under Stanley’s direction, the Blue Lion Marching Band has paraded through Disney World, Cincinnati for Major League Baseball’s Cincinnati Reds Opening Day celebrations, and Washington, D.C. for our nation’s Independence Day Parade. Matt’s influence on the Washington Court House community is all pervasive, and his integrity and professionalism are passed on to all those under his baton.

Robert Thompson

Theta Sigma Chapter, Fairmont State University

Robert Thompson has instilled the passion of music, service, and leadership skills in all of his students. According to one of his nominators, “One of Mr. Thompson’s greatest attributes as a music educator is his willingness to give students leadership opportunities. Mr. Thompson truly teaches students to work together for common goals, and the community established in band class is a lasting legacy of his teaching style. As a colleague, I deeply admire Mr. Thompson’s can-do attitude. He is cool under pressure and helps people around him see the bigger picture. He does not dwell on negativity or disappointment. As a result of his positive and encouraging outlook, the band grows under his direction and staff of East Hardy High School are reminded of what is really important: what is best for our students.”

Not only has he made a large impact with the local community and staff, he has also served as an inspiration for other band directors. Mr. Knepper, the band director at Musselman High School states that “people that have followed his career know that Robert (Bob) Thompson is one of the greatest examples of what an educational leader should be. Part of what is extraordinary about Bob is his combination of skills of desire, logic, and appreciation that has expounded on the virtues of music education for all. He leads by doing and his willingness to stimulate his students towards their innate potential has led East Hardy Middle and High School Bands to be an honorary youth organization in his community.”

See the full award presentation for Robert Thompson here.

Roland Ventura

Zeta Upsilon Chapter, Troy State

Mr. Roland Ventura is the Director of Bands at Pinckneyville Middle School in Norcross, GA. Since he started at Pinckneyville, the program has grown to over 340 students! These students consistently participate in GMEA band events such as District Honor Band, All-State Band and Solo and Ensemble. Roland’s concert bands also consistently receive Straight Superior Ratings at Large Group Performance Evaluation. The Pinckneyville Middle School Symphonic Winds most recently (2018) performed as a feature ensemble at the UGA Midfest Festival and GMEA In-Service Conference in the same year!

One nominator said, Mr. Ventura is what I consider to be my life mentor. He has made me not only a better teacher, but also a better person. As a brother of Kappa Kappa Psi, I can tell you that he literally “lives” these ideals every day. He is a person who will always put his best effort into the success of his students. With his relentless motivation and experience, Mr. Ventura will continue to bring a wealth of knowledge and skills to his students for a long time. I know he is beyond deserving of this honor and I give him my highest recommendation in hopes that he will continue to give back to future students like me.”

See the full award presentation for Roland Ventura here.

Kevin Webb

Delta Pi, Mississippi Valley State University

James Steven Wiles

Alpha Rho Chapter, Northeastern State University

James Steven Wiles was initiated into the Alpha Rho chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi at Northeastern State University as an honorary member in March 2000 in recognition of his influence on the many members of the chapter who had been members of various bands in Muskogee Public Schools and his contributions to music while a student at NSU.

Many former students shared why they thought Mr. Wiles is deserving of special recognition. According to one of them, “Everyone knows him and respects him. His sense of humor is always great, and his laugh is contagious. I strive to be as good with my music students as he is with his. He has been a key influence in the musical experience of thousands of young people in Muskogee – many of which have gone on to pursue music as their own careers, but others that have become key members of society in classrooms, businesses, and government today. He is owed a debt of gratitude for his dedication to education, and his loyalty to a community and its young people.”

In addition to his work with students in Muskogee, James Steven Wiles has been involved with the local community band, various brass ensembles, the music ministry at his church, and most recently became a YouTube sensation for his whistling abilities.

Gary Williams

Zeta Kappa Chapter, Texas A&M University-Commerce

Gary Williams currently serves as the Director of Bands at Cockrill Middle School in McKinney, TX and has served in this role since the school opened in 2008. Ensembles under his direction have consistently earned Superior ratings at U.I.L. Concert and Sight-Reading Contests and have been awarded “Best in Class” at festivals around the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. The Cockrill Middle School Honors Band has been named a “National Winner” in the National Wind Band Honors Project sponsored by Mark of Excellence in 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2016 and was named a “Commended Winner” in 2014. In 2015 and 2017, the Cockrill Middle School Honors Band advanced to the state level of the TMEA Honors Band competition, most recently placing 6th overall. In December of 2016, the CMS Honors Band was invited to perform at The 70th Annual Midwest Clinic in Chicago, IL.

Gary’s students perform literature that far exceeds the ability level of a middle school band. Mr. Williams and his staff teach their beginning band students high level fundamentals and expect high performance standards from their students. The result is quality musicians that any high school would be thrilled to have feeding their program. Developing the individual player is at the forefront of their program, but more importantly, there’s a place for every ability level in the Cockrill band program, and they continue to develop.

Graduates of the Cockrill Middle School Band program have gone on to achieve many wonderful things in the world. Almost every student that completes three years of band at CMS continues playing their instrument in high school, due to the positive influence and love for music that Gary has instilled in them. In addition, many of his former students have gone on to pursue careers in music themselves; either as performers or music educators.

Davon Yonkers

Iota Xi Chapter, Norfolk State University

Mr. Yonkers is a 2001 and 2008 graduate of Norfolk State University with degrees in music education. He currently teaches at Highland Springs High School in Henrico, Virginia, serving as the band and orchestra director since 2005. Previously, Mr. Yonkers taught band and strings at Eastman Middle School and served as assistant band director at Northwest Halifax High School in Halifax County, North Carolina, until 2005. In a letter of, recommendation for the Brent Cannon Music Education Alumni Achievement Award, Music Supervisor Rick Tinsley had these words to share about Mr. Yonkers:

“Davon is the type of music instructor we all want for our children to experience. His gentle – yet firm –manner, musical expertise, commitment to excellence, and passion for teaching, combine to create the model of a ‘master educator!’ Davon fosters a program that caters to a wide diversity of students and interests. Davon was asked by his school administration team to take over a fledgling orchestra program and he has helped the program to grow in quality and in student participation. He provides multiple levels of instruction in his teaching, which challenge and encourage students, while providing a solid musical foundation.”

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