Mark Henderson, director of choral activities at Weber State University, won the Music Educator of the Year award from the Utah Music Educators Association. He will receive the award on Feb. 2 in St. George at the UMEA Conference.
Henderson has been teaching at Weber State since 1985. In addition to being the director of choral activities, he also teaches concert and chamber choir, conducting and choral composition and arranging.
Henderson has always had a musical background, but never considered it a career in his earlier years. He started his college career in pre-med, but quickly learned that is was not the correct path for him. He then pursued his interest in music without any regrets.
Henderson’s main goal for his students is to take more than information away from his teaching.
“Information is not my main goal. I want my students to take traits with them. Curiosity, inquisitiveness and open-mindedness,” Henderson said. “I want them to enjoy, to stay awake and alert, to be present in the moment is of increasing value.”
Thomas Priest, Director of Music Education and Chair of the Department of Performing Arts, nominated Henderson for the award.
“Students who have gone through the choral program have always been well prepared,” Priest said.
Priest attributed Henderson’s student success to several aspects of Henderson’s teaching, including opportunities for leadership, creative and critical thinking and solving real-world problems.
UMEA’s criteria for the award is a “ an outstanding music educator’s long-term, meritorious service, assistance and inspiration to students, to the state, and to music teachers. The recipient must be an active member of UMEA who has demonstrated an enduring commitment to excellence in music education.”
Priest noted Henderson, someone he has known for 18 years, has attended the conference annually, not just as a member, but a person who is willing and ready to learn as a man who is teaching the next generation of educators.
“He has a very creative mind, he thinks outside the box and he is willing to think about different ways of doing things,” said Priest, on the qualities Henderson contributes to Weber State.
Henderson has been attending the UMEA conferences for thirty years, and he was surprised to have been considered but honored to be chosen for the award.
“It is a validation of what I value,” Henderson said.
Henderson sees a future of change for the program in the way he and other faculty educate their students. That change, he believes, begins with bringing the students up to be the best teachers they can be.