Salina Teachers of the Year Honored

Linda Rohrer, music teacher at Sunset Elementary, and Jake Montoya, band teacher at Lakewood Middle School and Central High School, have been selected as USD 305 Teachers of the Year.

Elementary Teacher of the Year: Linda Rohrer

Linda received her bachelors in music education from Hastings College in Nebraska and her masters from Kansas State University.  Before joining Sunset’s teachers 18 years ago, she taught at Hageman in Salina, Junction City-Ft. Riley, Wamego, and Glasco.

Linda is known for her creative approach in the classroom. Preschool students enjoy playing drums and dancing.  Second graders can be heard singing a song as they transition out of the classroom. Fourth graders are eager to perform a recorder song to see if they have earned the next belt in Recorder Karate.  Students are given a wide variety of opportunities to create, perform, and respond to music from different genres, cultures and historical eras.

Linda regularly collaborates with outside resources such as KMEA and the Salina Arts Commission to enhance musical experiences for students. These have included: Sunset third graders performing with Salina singer-songwriter Ann Zimmerman in a music video and live performance, fourth graders attending a Salina Symphony Outreach Concert, and fifth graders performing as members of the KMEA District Elementary Honor Choir.

Linda inspires students of all backgrounds and abilities with her innovative and creative teaching style. Her positive, student-centered classroom gives students the opportunity to grow musically.

Secondary Teacher of the Year: Jake Montoya

Jake Montoya received his bachelors in music education from Kansas Wesleyan University and is currently finishing his masters from Kent State Ohio. Before joining Lakewood, Central, and Cottonwood 4 years ago, he taught at Solomon for 9 years.

Since Jake accepted the Lakewood Band Director position, student participation has doubled.  Students are excited about band and eager to perform at their highest capability. The concerts are full of energy, and result in students having fun and parents feeling proud.  When building staff members talk to students about the instruments they play, they are pleased to share what they learn, the music that they practice in class, and the fact that “Mr. Montoya makes us work hard because he says we can.”

Jake volunteers his time to set up for band festivals at Bethany and Kansas Wesleyan University.  He has served as adjunct faculty of the music department at KWU. Jake performs locally and is often seen at the Smoky Hill River Festival.  He is active in his praise band at Trinity United Methodist Church, and has initiated an outreach program at K-State Salina.

Through the power of music education, Jake demonstrates that all youth can find a connection to music. He approaches them as individuals, teaching to their strengths and building upon their potential.

As part of their recognition, Rohrer and Montoya each received the H.E. and Erma Lee Nuss Teacher of the Year award; personalized watches donated by Randy Johnson, Jostens; and gift certificates donated by Martinelli’s Little Italy.