Putting Students First: Music is back!

Kelseyville Unified Superintendent Dave McQueen. Courtesy photo.

KELSEYVILLE, Calif. — As school gets going this year, I’m happy to report some good news: The Kelseyville Unified Music Program is back! We have two teachers, both of whom are new to Kelseyville.

Kaitlyn Mensen will teach music for grades five to seven. Anna Katibah will teach music for grades eight to 12. Both programs will emphasize character building and teamwork.

In grades five to seven, students will have the opportunity to learn a band instrument and form an ensemble. In the upper grades, we’ll offer beginning instrument classes so students can start music anytime; plus, we’ll offer eighth-grade band, high school band, high school choir and high school jazz band.

This is just the beginning. We are rebuilding our music program from the ground up. Eventually, we plan to offer music from TK through 12th grade, to include middle school jazz band, music theory classes, bring back our mariachi program, incorporate school musicals and start a string instrument program.

Many people can appreciate the artistic treasure and enjoyment music provides, but an education in music offers more benefits than you might think.

Studies show that young children with a year of musical training show brain changes and superior memory when compared with children who don’t receive the instruction. In a study by researchers at McMaster University in Canada, children taking music lessons improved more than the others in non-musical abilities such as literacy, verbal memory, visuospatial processing, mathematics, and IQ.

Maybe most important of all is the outlet music provides for self-expression and the sense of belonging students feel when they create music with others. Humans are social creatures and when we spend time with people who really understand us, that is a powerful thing.

Anna Katibah

“A vibrant, comprehensive music program at school isn’t just a vital ingredient to a great education,” Ms. Katibah remarked, “It is essential to the joy we find in life.”

When Ms. Katibah was earning her undergraduate degree in Flute Performance and Music Education from California State University East Bay, she began her career teaching in public schools.

Upon completion of her Bachelor of Arts degree, she finished her teaching credential and master’s degree in Music Education from the University of Southern California and is currently pursuing doctoral-level coursework. Since receiving her master's degree, she has spent six years in the classroom.

Ms. Katibah picked up her first instrument at the age of 2 when her parents bought her a toy guitar. Her parents say she immediately demanded a “real guitar,” and with that, her love for music was off and running. She also grew up singing and enjoys teaching singing. And her participation in jazz music growing up helped establish her musical taste and teaching style.

Ms. Katibah will be based at Kelseyville High School, and she will also teach a class at Mountain Vista Middle School, or MVMS.

Kaitlyn Mensen

Mrs. Mensen says she believes in cultivating the artistic minds of students as they are propelled through their educational journey.

After earning her Bachelor of Arts and Sciences degree in Music Performance and Education at Concordia University Irvine, Mrs. Mensen earned her teaching credential from California State University San Bernardino. After taking a class on music for children, she knew what she was meant to do.

As the daughter of a special education teacher, she says both music and teaching are in her blood. Her primary instrument is the bassoon and she is ready to teach students whichever instrument they want to learn.

Mrs. Mensen will be based at MVMS and will spend a couple of mornings a week at each elementary school.

Both Ms. Katibah and Mrs. Mensen are excited to share their love of music with Kelseyville students and to make the music program as strong as possible.

In the years ahead, they hope to take music students on field trips and find opportunities for them to perform inside and outside the community.

Music students can check out an instrument from their school. If families choose to purchase an instrument, Ms. Katibah and Mrs. Mensen recommend checking with them so they can help assure the highest quality instrument is secured.

If your student is interested in taking music, please let your student’s counselor know as soon as possible.

Dave McQueen is superintendent for the Kelseyville Unified School District.