Northwest Division President-Elect 2023-2025 Candidate
Lila Kennah currently teaches K-12 music and upper level sciences (physics, chemistry, advanced biology and environmental science) at Hulett School, in Hulett, WY. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Wyoming, a general science broadfield endorsement from Montana State University-Bozeman and a Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction from Black Hills State University. She is in her 31st year in the classroom and 19th year in her current position. Kennah completed a term of service to the Wyoming Music Educators Association as a membership chair and president. She has served as a music festival adjudicator in Wyoming and serves as the district music curriculum development committee chair. She was recently selected as the Teacher of the Year for the Crook County School District #1.
What do you see as the major challenges music education will face during your term and in what ways can you transform these into opportunities during your presidency?
One major challenge that is facing not only music education but education as a whole is the recruitment and retention of teachers. I believe that we are facing a shortage not only due to fewer individuals entering the education profession, but also due to many choosing to not remain in the profession. Many music positions are unfilled, leaving students without not only a quality music educational experience but also without the opportunity to observe what a rewarding career music teaching can be. Fewer students entering music education programs obviously leads to less qualified applicants for positions, further compounding the problem. Teachers leaving the profession is happening in all content areas, but I feel is magnified in the music world especially in rural states. Many educators are isolated in small communities and lack a support system that a large department would provide. Few students enter a college music prep position with the goal of being a K-12 music teacher and yet many of these rural programs are just that: K-12 programs that require these individuals to teach outside of a comfort zone. I believe that mentoring is one of the best ways we can nurture these young or isolated teachers. I would encourage all states that don’t currently have an effective mentoring program to develop one. Many states have implemented successful mentoring programs facilitated by their local MEAs, and using these successful programs as models, these programs could be implemented to assist young teachers.
What do you see as the major challenges the association will face during your term and in what ways can you transform these into opportunities during your presidency?
One of the challenges facing NAfME is the issue of keeping membership relevant from the national level all the way to each individual school. Gone are the days where young teachers join their professional organizations simply because it’s what you’re supposed to do. To invest dues into a professional organization, each individual must see why it is important and what the return for their membership dues will be. Providing resources, professional development opportunities that speak to both the novice and veteran teacher, and continued offerings of performance ensembles for our students are ways that we can keep membership relevant. Open lines of communication between the national board and local MEA boards are also important to address issues that may arise.
How do you plan to advance equity/DEIA in NAfME during your term of office?
The issue of access and equity looks different in different parts of the country and has to be addressed at the local level. The policy makers at the national level can continue to encourage our lawmakers to fund and support the arts, but solving problems of inclusion has to occur within each individual program. One of the ways we can ensure access to a quality music experience is to continue the efforts to recruit and retain qualified teachers. Regardless of demographics, schools must have teachers filling these vacancies. We must also examine the demographics of our schools. If the demographics of our school population as a whole does not match the demographics of our ensembles, we must work to solve that disconnect, so that all students may participate.