GLASGOW – Highland Elementary School music teacher Matt Shepherd was recently named “Elementary Music Teacher of the Year” by the Third District Music Educators Association. He will be receiving the award at the KMEA Conference in Louisville in February.

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In this GDT file photo from last November, Highland Elementary School students, from left, Khloe Hale, Hannah Younkin, Taylor Huddleston and Kenzie Forrest sing warmup scales with music teacher Matt Shepherd, who is playing the piano in the HES music room.

“It's pretty humbling,” Shepherd said, adding that he was nominated for the award and that the other music teachers in their district voted for him. “They all unanimously picked me to get it, so that was pretty humbling because a lot of those people were my mentors and helped me along the way.

“I didn't think I deserved it over them.”

Shepherd said he is “grateful and thankful” to have their support.

“The success we've had here at Highland with our Beta (Club) and the choir and all of the events that we do for the community definitely played a role in the decision,” he said. “And it's pretty neat because the success that we've had here has spread to where other people notice it, too.”

At the National Junior Beta Convention last summer, Highland Elementary School won first place and the People's Choice Award in Division I Group Talent. Their performance was based on the musical “Peter Pan Jr.,” which many of the students performed earlier in the year.

Shepherd said there were two people in particular who helped guide him into pursuing a career in music education.

The first was Todd Woodward, who retired from HES at the end of last year.

“I had him as my middle school and high school choir teacher,” Shepherd said. “During high school, when I was deciding on my career and what to do, he really helped push me to go into the music field.”

The second person was Keith Vincent, who was the Glasgow High School band director at the time.

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In this GDT file photo from last January, Highland Elementary School music teacher Matt Shepherd, right, directs students during a rehearsal of “Peter Pan Jr.” in the HES gym.

“He showed me that I had talent in music,” Shepherd said. “Before music, I thought I was going to be a baseball player.”

Shepherd said that while he was in the eighth grade, Vincent let him play with the high school band for the first time.

“That was really special for me,” Shepherd said, adding that Vincent helped convince him that “this is something that I should do for the rest of my life.”

HES Principal Jennifer Myers said Shepherd “goes above and beyond to make every student feel welcome, to feel part of this Highland family and to feel important.”

GHS Principal Amy Allen, who was previously principal of HES, said Shepherd is very deserving of this award with all of the passion he has for music education.

“I'm so proud of him,” Allen said, adding that she was very fortunate to have worked with Shepherd. “He is an incredible teacher. He's creative. He's a hard worker. He really makes music the coolest thing and kids want to be just like him.

“There's no better candidate.”

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