Garrett Spalka, Director of Bands and Mariachi at Kennedy Jr. High, was recently selected as the Music and Arts Teacher of the Year for the Honors in Education Gala. This award was made possible by Deseret News, Utah Business, and the First Lady Cox’s Show Up For Teachers initiative.
Mr. Spalka taught middle and high school band and mariachi in Nevada for five years and has been in Utah for the past two. At John F. Kennedy Jr. High School, Mr. Spalka has established a program that promotes inclusivity and develops talented musicians. He has established a Tri-M Music Honors Society and one of Utah’s only Curricular Mariachi Programs to reach the diverse population at the school.
Mr. Spalka is active in the Utah music community as a member of the Wasatch Symphony Orchestra and Utah Premier Brass. He is also involved with groups across the Wasatch front including staffing for the American Fork High School Marching Band and the Granite Youth Symphony.
He has received several awards with his groups and groups he works with including 4 state championships in Nevada and Utah, 2 Southwestern Regional Championships, and a 13th place finish at the Bands of America Grand National Marching Band Championships.
Mr. Spalka’s philosophy in music education is to provide the best education and experiences for students. He believes that students who enjoy what they’re doing and experience success doing it will develop a love and desire to always do their best. This is why he is a strong advocate for Mariachi education in schools and believes that a strong music program benefits the entire school community.