Kenneth Perkins ‘12
Occupation: Music teacher at Joseph Keels Elementary School in Columbia, S.C.
In 2021, Yamaha launched the “40 Under 40” music education advocacy program to celebrate and recognize outstanding music educators making a difference by growing and strengthening their music programs. In 2022, Yamaha celebrates a group of remarkable educators who triumphed before and during the pandemic to keep their programs thriving with their “40 over 40.” Showcasing characteristics of action, courage, creativity, and growth, Kenneth was named to this distinguished list of music educators in the United States.
He started the Joseph Keels Elementary chorus in 2012 — his first year as a music teacher. That year, he had about 12 kids in the choir, and for the winter concert, they performed only five songs. After that first year, Perkins’ music program grew each year until 2020, when COVID hit.
An offshoot of his large chorus was the recorder ensemble that he assembled to play with the singers. They played fun songs around the neighborhood, nursing homes, and festivals. Fun is a constant element in Perkins’ classroom because he believes children learn by doing. He actively seeks new and culturally relevant information that he can merge into his lessons. Music-making is at its peak level when all children can participate and feel like they are contributing to the process. Outside the classroom, Perkins is just as enthusiastic. Because he tries to spread the joy and beauty of music to both adults and children, he formed a faculty and staff choir and sought trained and untrained voices to join. It was a smashing success — the faculty choir performs for several programs throughout the school year.