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Veterans honored by school district

Kindergarten music teacher John Minnis directs the Veterans Day show on Nov. 10 at Truman Learning Center. Minnis led his kindergartners in a rendition of "It's A Grand Old Flag" in honor of local veterans. The educator is retiring at the end of this school year and was honored as the Featured Teacher during this month's Farmington Board of Education meeting.

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For one Farmington school teacher, each school day for the last 22 years, he has been with met with music, smiling faces and more hugs than anyone could ever count. Whether teaching kindergartners in the morning and intermediate kids in the afternoon, veteran music teacher John Minnis has brought a passion for music to all of his students throughout his career

For this accomplishment and commitment to his students and profession, the Truman Learning Center awarded John Minnis the 2017 Feature Teacher Award during the Farmington Board of Education meeting on Nov. 22.

“Mr. Minnis is another one of our outstanding teachers who works diligently to promote academic success among our students,” said Kim Johnson, the principal at the Truman Learning Center. “He goes above and beyond every single day providing such thought-out lesson plans for our kindergartners. He keeps them up and moving, listening to stories and performing by either singing or learning to play an instrument.”

But if you ask Minnis, teaching music and instilling the passion that can come with music is the whole reason he became a teacher.

“Everyone in my house, when I was growing up, was very musical,” Minnis said. “My mother played the trombone, my father and brother played the drums and my grandmother was an opera singer and played the piano. Music was always something I enjoyed, and I always wanted to help others learn play as well.”

Following his passion for music and his desire to teach people the joy of playing, Minnis earned his bachelor's degree in music at Central Methodist University at Fayette and master's degree in music from Southwest Missouri State University - now known as Missouri State University.

Beginning his teaching career in 1982, Minnis’ first job was teaching high school band, followed by college students while a grad student. It wasn’t until he accepted a position with the Farmington School District in 1995 that he began teaching kindergartners and elementary school children.

“I guess I have more patience than I ever knew I had because I really like teaching kindergartners,” Minnis said. “They get so excited about the music, and they really love it.”

During his career with Farmington, Minnis has seen a lot of changes. But, he says the biggest change in education has been technology.

“The biggest change in the district has definitely been technology,” Minnis said. “When I first started, we didn’t even have a cassette (player). We were still using records. Then CDs came along. Now when I pull out a record out, my students freak out. They have never seen one before.”

Minnis added technology has changed the way music is taught as well as played.

“I saw a person playing a trombone the other day,” Minnis said. “He hooked up a mute in the instrument and plugged it into the computer and it sounded like a guitar, so music is constantly changing. It’s the language that stays the same.”

While Johnson was presenting Minnis with his award, she announced Minnis’ plans to retire at the end of the school year.

“It’s kind of scary in a way,” Minnis said. “I’m too young to sit still. I want to do something, but I am not sure what it is yet.”

Although Minnis has been a dedicated teachers all these years, it doesn’t mean he hasn’t developed other skills or hobbies along the way. Over the years, he has done a great deal of traveling and is an avid genealogist.

“We have had some family trees that have been passed down through the years,” Minnis said. “But I never paid much attention to them until my parents passed away. Since then I have delved more seriously into it. I have been to Scotland and Ireland looking for my roots and I found them.”

During his travels to Scotland, Minnis discovered the home of his second great-grandmother who immigrated to the United States. He also discovered several other branches in his family.

“You have so many branches,” Minnis said. “Some go back to 1500 AD and some you have reached a dead end, but I haven’t stopped. Maybe that is what I should do when I retire...become a genealogist.”

Until the last day of school, Minnis will be doing what he does best - showing students his love for music.

Craig Vaughn is a reporter for the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-518-3629 or at cvaughn@farmingtonpressonline.com

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