KSC alumna Heidi Welch received the 2022- 23 Distinguished Alumni Award to honor her decades-long career in music education.
“It was amazing to be honored in such a way,” Welch said. “Sometimes people think I’m a little too excited and I get a little too much joy, but I don’t think that there is enough joy… How can you not have joy in this position? You can’t.”
She was nominated for this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award by music faculty member Sandra Howard, and Howard said Welch instantly stood out among the nominees. “It was a unanimous vote,” Howard said. “Heidi has excelled in the area of music education.”
Welch, in addition to being a KSC alumna, taught at the Hillsboro school district for two decades and was honored as the 2013 New Hampshire Teacher of the Year. The winner is selected from a list of nominees by members of the music department faculty, according to Daniel Carberg, KSC music department chair and vocal area coordinator. He said the winner is honored at one of the department’s spring events and gives a “presentation or a concert in their specific field.”
“[The music department faculty] bring in a list of nominees and we talk about each person and their strengths…the person that receives this award is given it publicly at the end of the spring semester at one of our big events,” Carberg said. “When Heidi’s name came up this year, it was just a no-brainer.” Welch described her time at KSC to be comforting.
“Keene State really provided me with a home, and to be awarded…for my job, for what I do every day without thought, I just have been very blessed to have people pay attention,” she said.
She continued, ”I know a lot of people that have come with much more distinguished degrees and backgrounds…So it was such a blessing to hear that because I feel that I owe Keene State so much.”
Originally, Welch said she did not attend KSC to pursue music education. “I was in band and…chorus because I really loved to be in those ensembles. And within a few weeks, one of my friends in band…said, ‘Heidi, when are you going to realize you’re going to be a music major or music ed major?’” Welch said. “Before I even knew it, [my advisor] had called the registrar’s office and sent me to register [as a music major]…it changed everything.” Welch began teaching while still attending KSC. She said she took on a position in Claremont, N.H. and spent two years there before heading to Hillsboro-Deering High School, where she taught for 20 years. “My teaching career [began] before I even crossed the stage,” Welch said.
Welch is currently the Director of Music Education at Castleton University. She credits her education at KSC for helping her get there. “I really think that Keene State was primary in supporting me as a teacher and giving me the foundation I needed to be successful,” Welch said.
Welch mentioned that music education can be a tool to inspire future generations. “We can do things that very few other curriculum areas can do,” Welch said. “My role is to create the next generation of passionate, intelligent, musically talented young people and to create the next generation of an incredible teaching force because we need them now more than ever.”
Welch added, “Enter to learn, go forth to serve. And that is…imperative for every teacher. And they instill that in you and Keene…I really, firmly believe that the education I received at
Keene is comparable to any of the Ivy League’s, honestly, I do. And then I took that knowledge and went forth to become a teacher and serve future teachers.“
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