Janet Wittkopf named 2009 Gardner Rotary Teacher of the Year
Janet Wittkopf, District Band Director has been named the Gardner Rotary Club's 2009 Teacher of the Year. Miss Wittkopf has taught band at Gardner Edgerton High School for 29 years. She is both a graduate of GEHS and a lifelong Gardner resident. An accomplished clarinet player, Miss Wittkopf earned her bachelor's degree from Emporia State University, and returned to begin teaching band in Gardner Edgerton in 1979. She became the district Band Director in 1998.
Miss Wittkopf has ensured the GEHS band's legacy of success continues. The band has earned 42 Superior (One) ratings at the Kansas State High School Activities Association Large Music Festival over the past 45 years.
Over the years, Miss Wittkopf has never relaxed her standards, and continues to challenge the bands to perform at more competitive venues. The band performed at the Dallas Music Festival, bringing home 12 trophies, including the overall award. Last year, Miss Wittkopf took the band to the Emporia State Marching Band Festival, another competitive first. The band and drum majors took first place, with the drum line and color guard receiving superior honors.
Each year for the past 17 years, GEHS has hosted the State Large Ensemble Music Festival, a day-long event, in which 23 school districts from the region compete. There is no school at GEHS on this day, as the entire high school staff is mobilized for the event.
Five years ago, Miss Wittkopf, with the assistance of students, staff and local business support, raised funds to replace the band's thirty year-old uniforms. Three years ago, Miss Wittkopf was successful in her multi-year quest to convince district administration and the Board of Education to implement a district-wide orchestra program. Last year, 153 students participated in orchestra in grades 5-12.
In 2008, Miss Wittkopf brought the United States Navy Band to Gardner for a special performance, which was offered free of charge to area residents. Also in 2008, Miss Wittkopf recieved the district's Shining Star Award.
Gardner Edgerton High School is proud to join with the Gardner Rotary Club in honoring Miss Wittkopf as an outstanding educator.