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WHS music director receives prestigious fellowship award

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Eric_LucasjEric Lucas, Woodinville High School director of instrumental music and chair of the performing arts department, is the recipient of a prestigious fellowship award from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

He will be attending an NEH summer institute at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo, entitled "The Sock Hop and the Loft: Jazz, Motown and the Transformation of American Culture, 1959-1975."

Each year, the NEH’s Division of Education programs offers teachers opportunities to study a variety of humanities topics through summer seminars and institutes.

The courses are typically led by a team of core faculty and visiting scholars and are designed to present the best available scholarship on important humanities issues and works taught in the nation’s schools.

Summer institutes consist of 25-30 participating teachers, who meet to compare and synthesize the different perspectives offered by the faculty, while making connections between the institutes’s content and classroom applications.

Lucas learned about NEH’s programs via another WHS teacher, Jim Schindler, who has been involved with the organization for a number of years, first as a recipient and now as a specialist who helps run summer institutes on Mozart in Vienna.

"I thought it would be a great experience to participate in one of these institutes," says Lucas, "because of the in-depth knowledge it would give me which I could then share with my students. I was particularly interested in this one on jazz and Motown because of the cultural and historical impacts these forms of music had on our society."

Lucas notes that both types of music affected Americans’ taste in fashion, film, literature and even language. He adds, "They impacted history, as they helped to bring about the civil rights movement."

Lucas, who has been at WHS since 2001, teaches wind ensemble, percussion ensemble, orchestra, jazz ensemble and rock guitar.

He has also been an adjunct professor at Bellevue College and served as president of the Northlake Music Educators Association for four terms.

When he heard the news that he was a recipient of the award, Lucas was thrilled as the program is very selective and competitive, and he feels honored to be chosen.

"NEH attracts a high volume of applicants," he says, "and it’s hard to get into the institutes because they draw interest from teachers all across the country. For the institute I will be participating in, for example, there will be teachers who teach a wide range of humanities courses. Not everyone in the class will be a music teacher. There could be people who teach English, for example, or drama, or history and social studies. It will be interesting to get different perspectives."

Lucas is delighted that the institute is in St. Louis, as he looks forward to exploring the area. Other than an airport stopover, he’s never been to the city.

He says, "St. Louis is steeped in jazz and it will be fun to check out some of the jazz clubs, as well as do some tourist-like activities during my free time."

Upon his return, Lucas plans to incorporate his learning into the classroom, as well as share his experience with other teachers.

He adds, "I know it will be an enriching experience for me that will have many applications."

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