Long-time Grinnell High School Choir Director, Roger Henderson, has retired from teaching at Grinnell after 31-years and 38-years overall as a teacher. A native of Albia, Henderson’s career started at Earlham, where he spent seven years, before coming to Grinnell where he taught high school choir, gave private vocal lessons and helped with the productions of the school musicals.
Roger Henderson, the long-time choir director at Grinnell High School, has retired after 38 years in the classroom, 31 of those years at Grinnell.
Henderson’s last day at Grinnell was June 7.
A native of Albia, Henderson holds a BA from Luther College in Decorah and a masters in vocal performance and pedagogy from the University of Iowa.
Henderson started his teaching career in Earlham, where he taught for seven years.
“Originally that position was a 6-12 vocal music job, then it changed to K-12,” Henderson said. “I was led to apply for the Grinnell position for the opportunity to teach high school only.”
When asked, Henderson said the most enjoyable thing about teaching in Grinnell is without question, the students.
“I have been so fortunate to have taught many, many dedicated students over all of the years I have been here,” he said. “I have also enjoyed tremendous community support through excellent attendance at events and financial support for various projects over the years.”
In addition to serving as the GHS choir director for 31 years, which included teaching choral music and private voice lessons at Grinnell, Henderson was the co-director of the school’s musicals, which took place every other year. He most recently helped produce and conduct The Addams Family.
“I also conducted the orchestra for those productions,” he said.
Henderson is past president of the Iowa Choral Director’s Association and has been a presenter at the ICDA annual summer symposium and the Iowa Music Educators Association annual conference. He also served on the Iowa High School Music Association Advisory Board.
Henderson is a founding member of Iowa Comprehensive Musicianship Project Team and has led various sessions including demonstration rehearsals for the project’s summer music institute for music teachers. He served as a regional teacher-team leader for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, developing teacher assessments for national certification in music education. He also trained assessors reviewing candidate submissions for the National Board Certification in music. Henderson received a Yale Distinguished Music Educator Award for outstanding service to music education in public schools, presented at Yale in June 2011. He was most recently awarded the Weston Noble Award from Luther College for excellence in choral music education.
When asked, Henderson said he has had numerous memorable experiences as a teacher, but the highlights include having students participate in the Heartland Youth Choir.
He also noted the many Grinnell High School choir students who have been selected for various honor choirs including All-State and the Iowa State Honor Choir.
“Students have received multiple division I ratings of superior as soloists, small group members as well as large ensembles,” he noted of teaching choir at Grinnell.
When asked what he will miss about teaching, Henderson said interacting with the students.
As for retirement, Henderson said he has no immediate plans at this point other than visiting with his children and grandchildren.
“I also have many projects at home that have been neglected over the years,” he said.
Henderson and his wife, Lisa, who teaches voice at Grinnell College, have two sons, Reid and his wife, Jeanmarie, and their two children and Alec and his wife, Sarah, all of Minneapolis.