Holt High School music teacher and band director Jim Cunningham has been announced as the St. Louis Suburban Music Educators Association (SLSMEA) Outstanding Music Educator Award on Friday, May 10, 2019, in front of a packed Holt Auditorium at the school’s spring band concert.
Chris Pieper, a middle school band director in Oakville School District, represented the SLSMEA at the concert and presented the award to Cunningham. Pieper said in his speech, “We all have a teacher in our past who stands out in our minds as exceptional. Someone who helped us grow as a student, and as a person. Someone who pushed us to be better than we thought we could be, even when we maybe didn’t want to be pushed. Someone who went the extra distance to give us an experience that could change our lives for the better. Ask any of the students in Mr. Cunningham’s care, both past and present, and I am sure they would agree that this has been his calling - to push students to grow more than they thought possible and to foster a lifelong love of music, no matter their path.”
“I've been in Wentzville and at Holt and Wentzville Middle School for 19 years,” Cunningham said. “I have the best job there is. Not only do I get to make music every day, I get to watch students come in as sixth graders, knowing absolutely nothing about playing a musical instrument and then get to watch them over the next seven years grow and mature into not only great musicians but into young adults as well.”
Peiper said, “Mr. Cunningham, as many band directors are, is not one for the spotlight. Accolades do not drive him in his work; many do not know that he was also recognized as the Phi Beta Mu Band Director of the Year for 2018. But despite his humble approach, Mr. Cunningham should be recognized and applauded for his contributions to education in the St. Louis area, as well as the state of Missouri.”
The St. Louis Suburban Music Educators Association is the professional organization for music educators for member schools of EducationPlus. SLSMEA is affiliated with EducationPlus and MENC: The National Association for Music Education. SLSMEA sponsors numerous festivals throughout the year, which include Large Ensemble Music Festival for Bands, Orchestra, and Choirs; Solo and Ensemble Music Festival for Band, Orchestra, and Choir; and Honor Group Ensembles for Bands, Orchestras, and Choirs for high school, middle school, and elementary students.