BGSU alumnus named Young Music Educator of the Year

Ryan Hurd '14 to be honored by Ohio Music Education Association

By Marie Dunn-Harris '95

For the fourth year in a row, a Bowling Green State University graduate has been the recipient of the Ohio Music Education Association’s (OMEA) Young Music Educator of the Year award.  

The award was created four years ago to recognize and honor OMEA members for excellence in music education who have been teaching between three to eight years. Each year since its creation, a BGSU graduate has won. This year’s award goes to Ryan Hurd ’14."Ryan is a dynamic teaching professional and I’m fortunate to observe his spirited pursuit of music excellence."  

“I really appreciate that they’d think that much of me. It means the world to me that people think that I’m OK at what I do,” Hurd said.

Hurd’s mentor Kathleen McGrady ’81, who is now the president-elect of the Ohio Music Education Association and recipient of the 2014 OMEA Educator of the Year, expressed admiration for Hurd in her nomination letter.  

“I truly believe he exemplifies the ideals of what it means to be an outstanding music educator,” she said. “He is an example of what we in the music education profession want to aspire in our young educators.”

Hurd is in his fourth year as associate director of bands at Jackson Middle School, located in Jackson County in southeast Ohio. Mark Broermann, principal of Jackson Middle School, was one of six people who nominated Hurd for the award.

In his nomination letter, Broermann wrote, “not only does Mr. Hurd excel at making music personally, he is able to lead more than 200 middle school students through lessons, practices, and performances that are always dynamic.”

Hurd takes pride in his work, and it shows. Since joining the staff, Jackson Middle School Bands has grown by 35 percent. He’s known to spend hours mentoring students so that they continue their music education in high school. His students have even nicknamed him “Band Dad.”

“Ryan makes exceptional efforts to connect with students and establish outstanding rapport,” said Aaron Rex, Jackson director of bands. “He develops a nurturing culture and environment for students that drives them to push each other to succeed.”

Outside of the classroom, Hurd is very involved in his community, participating in the Jackson Community Band, volunteering at the Markay Theatre and the Southern Hills Arts Council.  

“Ryan is a dynamic teaching professional and I’m fortunate to observe his spirited pursuit of music excellence,” said John Lewis, president of the Southern Hills Arts Council.  

While at BGSU, Hurd credits his passion for music to his professors, who mentored him throughout his time here as a student.

“My saxophone professor guided me in playing my instrument and the artistry of being a musician,” Hurd said. “Many of the techniques that I use with my students are the same ones used to teach me.”  

Hurd mentors his students the way he was taught because he understands how important it is to help them succeed.  

“I went into music education with the focus that I can make at least a small difference in someone’s life,” he said. “That’s all I wanted.”  

He gives this advice to current students who are hoping to follow the same career path: “Every single opportunity that’s presented to you, whether it’s a gig that you’re playing or a private student you’re teaching one-on-one, or a job through a school, take that opportunity and run with it because you never know what it’s going to turn into.”

Hurd will be presented with the award Friday, Feb. 9 at the OMEA Professional Conference in Columbus.