Dana Hamant, a former band director at East High School in Wichita, has been named this year’s Outstanding Music Educator by the National Federation of State High School Associations.
The national citation is awarded to one person each year. Hamant is the third Kansas music educator to earn the distinction.
“It’s students like you guys that did it all,” he told a group of band students at East High on Tuesday, where he was surprised with the award.
“Since I started teaching … I never played a note on stage and I never took a step on a marching band field. … I’ve always been fortunate enough to have students that listen and try very hard to do what I asked them to do.
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“Any teacher will tell you, when you do that, you’re going to be pretty successful,” Hamant said. “And I have been really lucky.”
Hamant has taught music for 31 years in Cimarron, Hutchinson and Wichita. Last year he retired after 17 years at East High. He currently serves as a sixth-grade instrumental specialist in the district, teaching beginner band students at Brooks, Mayberry and Robinson middle schools.
“There’s something, an energy, in little kids. It seems like they can’t wait to learn something new when they’re that age,” he said. “I just kind of missed it.”
Hamant plays trumpet for the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and is assistant band director at Friends University.
He also served 15 years as a state large group festival manager for the Kansas State High School Activities Association, chaired the festivals committee for the Kansas Music Educators Association and served as an assistant conductor, musical director and tour director for the Kansas Lions International Bands.
The National Outstanding Music Educator citation recognizes band, choral or orchestral directors who have made long-term contributions to interscholastic high school music activities. The official award presentation will be held during the national group’s annual meeting in Denver this summer.
Reggie Romine, of the Kansas State High School Activities Association, announced the award and presented a certificate to Hamant on Tuesday, saying the honor was “very important for the city of Wichita, for the school district and our state as a whole.”
“We are just elated,” Romine said. “We have a lot of tremendous music educators in our state. We’ve been truly blessed. And Dana happens to be one of those.”
Hamant said he was thankful to work with people who value music and other fine arts in schools.
“They understand that this is something that’s important, and it can change kids,” he said. “When they’re successful in something like this, it can really change their outlook and give them something to grab onto.”