FORT WAYNE – North Side High School music teacher Ed King was walking down the hallway Wednesday when his principal, Chad Hissong, tapped him on the shoulder and asked whether the two could meet in Kings office.
King didnt think much of it – the two had a few curriculum matters to discuss – so he walked into his band room office along with Hissong and closed the door behind them.
Little did he know that outside his door, students, administrators and members of the media were waiting to surprise him with good news: King, a teacher for 39 years, is the 2012 Fort Wayne Community Schools 2012 Teacher of the Year.
Im embarrassed. This is so embarrassing, a startled King said as he walked out of his office and saw the crowd. While cameras rolled and students clapped, Superintendent Wendy Robinson handed him a plant arrangement and congratulated him on the achievement.
District officials said King was selected for teacher of the year because of his dedication to students and his passion for working with students of all musical abilities.
He does it because he loves it, Robinson said. Thats the kind of person we want representing the district.
Hissong, who recommended King for the honor, was also full of praise.
Hes a person who goes above and beyond for our students, he said. Hes passionate about what goes on in the classroom, and hes passionate about North Side High School.
As band director, King has taken the North Side Marching Redskins to the state band competition many times and taught many award-winning musicians.
In addition to teaching music, hes also a practicing musician. King founded and continues to be artistic director and lead trombonist for the New Millennium Jazz Orchestra, a professional big band, according to district officials. He also co-founded and plays with the Three Rivers Brass Ensemble and is on the board of Local 58, American Federation of Musicians.
King said the key to being a successful music teacher is to have passion for what you do and to stay current with trends. He said hes consistently researching music theory, listening to the latest music and learning from other musicians and teachers.
His advice for starting music teachers: Give it all youve got and be patient. Music teachers want to have instant success, and I dont think theres such an animal. Youve got to build it up.
King hasnt picked a retirement date yet but said he might consider it in two years. Looking back at his career, he said he hopes he has instilled a love for music in his students and convinced them that he cared about every one of them.
Adriana Arthur, a ninth-grader who plays the flute, said she didnt need to be convinced.
Mr. King is awesome, she said. Hes really good with kids, and he relates to them. Hes taught me a lot since Ive been here.
Candidates for the districts teacher of the year are nominated by principals and finalists are chosen by a committee of administrators.
This years finalists included Angela Gallien, a fourth-grade teacher at Shambaugh Elementary; Shanita Nelson, a second-grade teacher at Weisser Park Elementary; Amelia Pflieger, a fifth-grade teacher at Arlington Elementary; and Louise Swihart, a seventh-grade science teacher at Lakeside Middle School.
Now thats hes been nominated by FWCS, King will also be considered for Indiana Teacher of the Year, an honor the state typically announces in the fall. As he moves on in the contest, King said hell try his best to represent the work of all his talented peers at Fort Wayne Community Schools.