Pedersen named ‘Outstanding Administrator’
ELDON — Cardinal Community School District’s Superintendent Joel Pedersen won the Outstanding Administrator Award in the superintendent category this year from the Iowa Bandmasters Association.
Pedersen was notified earlier this month, and will be recognized at 6 p.m. May 16 at a banquet during the Iowa Bandmasters Association Convention at the Marriot Hotel in downtown Des Moines.
According to Luke Miller, band director at Cardinal schools who nominated Pedersen, he is receiving the award as a result of his outstanding and enthusiastic support of the band program — not only financially and materially, but also for his help with recruitment and retention for the program.
“I have seen many school administrators from large districts receive this award throughout the years,” said Miller. “I consider it a double honor that Mr. Pedersen has earned this recognition and honor above all his peers, given by this well-respected state organization.
“The Iowa Bandmasters Association has a reputation nationally as the world’s greatest bandmasters association,” said Miller. “This is truly an incredible honor.”
In his nomination letter to the bandmasters association, Miller wrote that Pedersen was hired as Cardinal superintendent four years ago, at the same time Miller was hired as band director.
“The band program was in need of building,” said Miller. “It needed some energy and innovative ideas to bring it back to life.
“Mr. Pedersen encouraged me to ‘go for it’ with the band, and helped me brainstorm ideas on how to motivate students and create a culture that would develop excellence. He has been an outstanding supporter of the band program.”
Pedersen does whatever he can to provide for the material needs of the band program, said Miller.
“Right away he purchased the Finale music writing program and Pyware, a marching band drill writing program,” he said.
Finale is a software program to write music.
Miller said his superintendent supports him purchasing new music every year and continues funding the band program’s operating expenses.
“He supplemented a memorial fund and helped us buy a new marimba,” said Miller. “He helped the music boosters buy a 24-foot band trailer, even insisting on a larger trailer than what I had originally asked for; he had confidence the band program would grow to need the larger trailer. Mr. Pedersen helped fund the design of lettering added to the trailer to make it uniquely ours.”
Miller said Pedersen then purchased a sports utility vehicle with a tow package to haul the band trailer.
Pedersen also approved a new sound system for the music and drama departments and allowed the band director to collaborate with the sound system designer to tailor it to the district’s needs. A Promethean board was added to the band room, which looks like a white board and interacts with computer technology.
“He’s set up special fundraisers to help with extra funds for the band,” said Miller. “For instance, the schools had a ‘jeans week’ for school employees where staff donated money to wear jeans, and he arranged a collaboration fundraiser with a local Ford dealership.”
While funds and equipment are important aspects of running a good band program, Miller also is grateful for his superintendent’s support in other ways.
“He does whatever he can to help the band develop a culture of family and excellence,” said Miller. “He personally visits the band during rehearsals and gives students encouragement. He attends all of our performances. He contributes refreshments for music groups at extended rehearsals.
“Mr. Pedersen made a cameo appearance in one of our school musicals,” he said. “He’s bought pizza for the middle school band party to help with retention. He’s paid for the high school band and chorus’s lunch at Happy Joes Pizza after their nursing home tour.”
Pedersen established a monthly social time for middle school band students to be in the music room and play Wii games during open gym so students could build community bonding, said Miller.
“He’s also sent personal video messages to the band to be played during class to encourage them,” he said.
The band program has a motto, “We’re not just a band, we’re a family,” that guides the program on how things are done.
“Our band program demonstrates how it is exceptional with our culture of family, fun and fundamentals,” said Miller.
Miller, with Pedersen’s support and approval has built a band program atmosphere where students can feel safe and gain a sense of belonging.
“Band students are learning music, but also delayed gratification, sacrifice, responsibility and dedication,” said Miller. “Students like to come to band. We schedule fun things periodically to keep it that way.
“We focus on fundamentals,” said Miller. “This helps us develop a better quality product for our audiences. Progress is our focus in band, not trophies.”
Miller is proud of the band program’s retention rates and growth — he credits the support Pedersen provides to the program as helping accomplish the growth.
“Each year, about 95 percent of fifth grade students start beginning band,” said Miller. “I have been able to retain at least 20 from each grade in most cases. My middle school program has grown from 17 students to nearly 50 in a few years.
“The quality of the players has been improving as they progress through a rigorous method program,” said Miller. “In the next two years, the high school band could balloon in size to nearly 60, up from the 20–30 students range. If that happens, we’ll need to buy additional band uniforms in the near future, which is a good problem to have.
“I’d like to restate my appreciation for the outstanding support I receive from my superintendent,” Miller concluded in his nomination letter about Pedersen.
“He focuses on building relationships with students and has a willingness to support our needs financially; these are keys to the continued growth and success of our band program at Cardinal.”