Music Educator of the Year

Arapahoe Philharmonic Music Educator of the Year

At the Arapahoe Philharmonic, we deeply value the impact our music educators have on our community and the future of music. To show our appreciation, we began the annual Arapahoe Philharmonic Music Educator of the Year Award. The award recognizes exemplary public school instrumental music teachers who work in Arapahoe or Douglas County.

Nominations are open to the public, with the Arapahoe Philharmonic Education Committee selecting the finalists, followed by public online voting.

All finalists receive two free tickets to our “Maestros of the Classroom” concert on April 29, 2022 where the winner will be announced. The winner will receive two tickets to our “Stars and Stripes Forever” Independence Day Celebration, and a coaching for their students from our instrumentalists and conductor in the 22-23 school year.

2022 Finalists

(in alphabetical order)


Benjamin Dale, Orchestra, Rock Canyon High School

Mr. Dale is an awesome person and teacher all in one! He is always available to help us—musically, academically, and personally. He cares about us as people, not just students. He always encourages us to do our best, both in orchestra and in other pursuits, yet he doesn’t make us feel stressed or pressured. He leads by example by maintaining a positive attitude and showing good character. He creates a great environment for students, allows us to speak our opinions, and doesn’t judge us.”


Keith Farmer, Band, Grandview High School

Born and raised in Colorado, Keith Farmer has been a music educator in the state for over 20 years. At Grandview, Keith has enjoyed superior ratings for both his concert bands and jazz ensembles. His Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble I have both performed at the CMEA conference among many other national and international engagements. As a catalyst for positive change, Keith has implemented new programs including a Wolf Pride Marching Band designed to foster student leadership skills. In addition, his leadership has been recognized as the Co-Coordinator of the Performing Arts Department since 2009 and the Grandview Teacher of the Year in 2016.

Samuel Hesch, Band and Orchestra, Ponderosa High School

“Mr. Hesch is a strong emerging leader in Music Education who has shown commitment and love for his students and community. Through his passion for music, desire for his students to succeed, and to grow as a teacher and musician he has grown the small program at Ponderosa exponentially. His ensembles receive top marks at festivals and the program at Ponderosa continues to grow.”


John Kempsell, Band, Campus Middle School

“To say Mr. Kempsell is an incredible, skilled, and charismatic leader and teacher is a major understatement. Band is the first class of my day, and that usually means being barely awake and thoroughly bored. However, band is consistently the highlight of my day because Mr. Kempsell is consistently my favorite teacher of my day. I didn’t think this was possible, but Mr. Kempsell made warmups and rhythm charts enjoyable. Not only that, but we’ve all legitimately been able to improve flexibility, tone, syncopation, and many more skills because of warmups. When the warmups are finished, Mr Kempsell has always picked fun songs for us to play, and as someone who started a second instrument pretty recently, have made us better. The other huge thing he’s done for us is prepare us for high school. Mr. Kempsell totally deserves this award.”


Nina Scheideman, Band and Orchestra, Columbia Middle School

“‘Ms. Shy,’ as she’s known to her students, has an incredible passion and dedication to the work she does. Due to Ms. Shy’s inventiveness and hard work, Columbia was the only middle school in Aurora to continue band and orchestra classes during the pandemic. When you go into her classes, you can see how her investment in her students pays off. These are middle schoolers who are focused, happy, and love music. Way to go Ms. Shy!”