Golden Apple Shines Green for Second Straight Year

Illinois award for teaching excellence goes to MSU music education alumnus.

Chicago’s 2015 Golden Apple inductees. Fourth from left, John Campbell, 2007 Music Education graduate.
Campbell shares a moment in the spotlight with one of his students, Nate Wehner.
Campbell and his 5th grade students were the opening act at the Harvest and Harmony Festival in Highland Park, IL. North Shore School District students collaborated on a joint bucket drumming performance.

John Campbell’s drive to influence the musical futures of his students was recognized in the present day when the MSU alumnus received a coveted award for teaching excellence in the State of Illinois.

Campbell, a music teacher and band director at Ravinia Elementary in Highland Park, Ill., was among 10 winners of the 2015 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. He is the second straight alumnus from the College of Music to receive the award, following Anand Sukumaran in 2014.

Campbell was selected based on teaching methods that create “real-world” experiences that students can transfer to the community. His “musical share program” enables students to perform weekly for their classmates, while his after-school ukulele club provides performance opportunities in the community. Campbell also maintains a strong digital presence through Tweeting and YouTube tutorials for his students.

“One thing that’s so important right now is a student’s continued engagement with music beyond the classroom experience,” Campbell says. “I want my students to view music as something they can do throughout their lives—and not something they’re forced to do in school.”

Mitchell Robinson, associate professor and chair of the MSU Music Education Area, had Campbell in several music education classes. He recalls Campbell’s perceptive approach to teaching.

See the video presentation of the award produced by the North Shore School District:

“John always knew that his goal as a music teacher was to teach the students, not teach the music,” says Robinson. “He’s a student-centered teacher in every sense of the term, and has used this approach to meet his students where they are and take them where they want to go.”

Campbell received his bachelor’s of music education from MSU in 2007. He says the depth, breadth and creativity of MSU courses prepared him for his master’s program at Kent State and for his professional career.

“The courses I took at MSU inspired me to go beyond and explore my own interests,” he says. “After studying world music at MSU, I've become passionate about listening to and teaching my students about music from across the globe.”

The Golden Apple Award was founded in 1986 and comes with a $5,000 cash award and a tuition-free, spring quarter sabbatical to study at Northwestern University. This year marks the 30th anniversary that the non-profit Golden Apple Foundation has honored, supported and developed teacher excellence through the award and related activities.  

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