WorldStrides Teacher of the Year: Performing - Kelly DeHaan

Our Directors – your teachers – are the heart and soul behind our programs. It’s the teacher students will remember. This year, for Teacher Appreciation Week, we asked students and parents who have participated in recent WorldStrides programs to nominate their program leaders for WorldStrides Teacher of the Year to honor their hard work and dedication. Each day this week, we will announce a different WorldStrides Teacher of the Year. Teachers will be selected in five categories – history, science, international, performing arts, and sports. 

Our WorldStrides Performing Arts Teacher of the Year is Kelly DeHaan of West Jordan High School. In their own words, read why Kelly was nominated for WorldStrides Teacher of the Year by his students and their parents.

“Mr.DeHaan has been teaching at West Jordan High for 19 years now, and he has never failed to bring back a win for WJHS. But that’s not what’s important. What’s important is that he cares for each and every one of his students. He laughs, he cries, he feels. He shows us what music is really all about. With Mr.DeHaan, music isn’t just about singing the right notes and sounding good. It’s about feeling the magic and understanding the message you’re sending when you sing. Students still come back to see him, and he deserves this award more than anyone I know.”

“He is a one of a kind teacher. He interacts with every student, forming a teacher-student bond that makes it so we never want to leave the class. He makes the class a place where every type of student fits in and all becomes close friends. And with this, he has our undivided attention, allowing him to teach us to perform at our best and in doing so, we learn a lot more than the subject that he is to teach us. Every student that has taken Mr. DeHaan’s class had become a better person than they already were.”

“He is an amazing man who really cares about each one of his students as an individual. He tries hard to be our friend, as well as our teacher. He helps us in any way he can and really cares about what is going on in our lives. I have some medical issues and he is always completely willing to work with me and anyone else who needs it. He also manages to push us and make us care about what we are doing. He’s never rude about it, but makes us do our best and is always willing to challenge it.”

“Because of his dedication, and passion for his craft. He inspires all that he teaches and helps me to find a deeper love for performing and music.”

“Mr. DeHaan really cares about his students and wants to share his love of music with them. He knows exactly what he is doing and it reflects in his teaching. He is on top of everything and he is invested in his students’ lives. He is willing to talk with students and to work with them to be the best they can be.”

“He is a fantastic singer and teacher. He has taught me more about music in these 3 years than I have ever known, or will come to know in the future. He works hard with each student to help them become the best singer they can, and always makes sure that you are aware of what you can achieve as a singer and as a person. He always has a good story to tell, and I have many unforgettable memories in his classroom.”

“Mr. DeHaan has taught me not only how to sing, but how to pursue a fantastic life. He has shared so many stories in class that have inspired me to strengthen several aspects of my life. The main reason I appreciate him so much is because I know without a doubt that he cares about me personally. One day in class we were practicing a very touching song that talked about cursing God because of a loved one dying. This was just shortly after my grandma had passed away and he asked me to share my thoughts and feelings about that and how it related to the song. He did it so respectfully and I know that he asked because he loves me, and in a way he really comforted me. Kelly DeHaan is a wonderful man.”

“Mr. Dehaan has been working at West Jordan High School for 19 years. He pours his heart and soul into his job and his students. He is one of the most talented pianists, and vocalists I have ever heard and will certainly ever have the opportunity to be instructed by. He isn’t just a teacher. All of his students, past and present, would not hesitate to call him a friend. He has the biggest heart, he is funny, caring, supportive, and helpful among other things. He works so hard to make his choirs the best they can be. He doesn’t do this for him though, he does this for us. He wants us to be proud of ourselves and what we accomplished. Mr. Dehaan is the most deserving teacher of this award, and it would mean the world to us if he got back even just a fraction of what he has given to us.”

“Mr. DeHaan is such an asset to WJHS. He has been teaching at this school for 19 years now, and every year he is continuously changing the lives of his students. His love and devotion to each of us is more than anybody could ever imagine. I’ve never felt more loved, wanted, or comfortable in a class, than in the choir room with Mr. Dehaan. He never ceases to amaze all of us. Students, and parents. You’ll never find a teacher that deserves this more.”

“I am not the typical ‘choir kid.’ Sometimes, I feel a bit out of place. Mr. DeHaan has always made me feel welcome, and has been my teacher for 2 years now. I feel accepted, and even knowledgeable about the concepts he has taught me. His love for music radiates and influences everyone around him.”

“Mr. DeHaan truly is an amazing teacher! He loves what he does and that’s what makes his teaching so great! He cares about all of his students and he knows what to say to make us feel good inside! He knows his stuff and he tells his students like it is. If we’re flat then he tells us and we fix it. If we have bad vowels then he tells us and we fix it, or at least try our best to. Mr. DeHaan knows how to get us involved in what we’re learning and he knows when and when not to have fun! He is an all-around great teacher that loves music and his students!”

“Mr DeHaan has taught me so much. He has also connected with us on a high school level. He has made us laugh, smile, cry (in a good way), and has made us understand music in a whole new way.”

“Mr. DeHaan is my favorite teacher. He never fails to bring back wins from tours and festivals. While this is important, he truly deserves this award because he helps us actually feel and know what we are singing about. He loves all of his students and would do anything for any one of us. This is why he deserves this award, not just because he helps us win. He deserves this award because he is the best teacher I have ever had.”

“He has helped so many students figure out who they are and what they want to be. He is very understanding and he is a fun teacher.”

“Mr. DeHaan helps each individual student to be the best they can be. He helps the choirs truly understand and deeply feel the music, and the messages behind it.”

“Mr. Dehaan is the most influential teacher you will ever meet. He doesn’t just teach, he inspires. He works hard to get to know you, not just get to know how smart you are. For example, he asks me every day how my day is going. If there is something eventful going on in my life, he wants to know about it. He is always there to talk to and his advice is designed for teenagers. I love this man, he deserves this award more than anyone.”

“Kelly DeHaan is a man that I strive to be like every day and in the future. He inspires people every day, especially those he is able to teach, to be better than yesterday and to grow. He has helped me so much as he teaches me to love and learn from the music we sing. He is an amazing teacher with an amazing heart for music, choir, and all the kids that are in it.”

“He is the most influential teacher I have ever had. He puts so much time and effort into his students. He has helped me grow so much and become confident. His impact on me will change my life forever. You can’t say that about many teachers. He truly deserves this reward because he is so talented, hardworking, and an amazing teacher.”

“Mr. DeHaan is the most incredible, dedicated teacher I have known. He dedicates all his time and talent to his students. He encourages and brings out the best in each student. Mr. DeHaan exemplifies all that is good in the world. Mr. DeHaan has taught all 4 of my children at our years at West Jordan High School spanning over the last 10 years. His name brings joy to their faces. He deserves this award as he changes lives through music and the arts with his self-less example and positive attitude. We love Mr. DeHaan.””

No one works harder or cares about their students more than Mr. DeHaan. I have watched him build self-confidence in kids that didn’t have any. I have watched him help eradicate their fears and let their hearts shine for all to see. I have never seen a teacher more dedicated to his students than he. He deserves this award because he lives what he teaches and his legacy and influence in his community over the last 19 years has been far reaching and enabled his students to go on and be successful in their lives in large part because of the lessons taught and experiences he gave them singing in his choral and theater programs. He is selfless, nurturing, demanding, and possess more integrity than any educator I have ever known.”

“Mr. DeHaan by far goes past the role of an instructor, he’s a friend. He puts in extra effort to make sure he can relate to his students on a personal level, and to make all his students feel comfortable around one another. The choir program at our school acts not only as an amazing performing opportunity, but the students participating in choir are able to relate to each other, no matter how introverted they might be. I can personally say that if it wasn’t for the environment Mr. DeHaan has created in the choir program, I wouldn’t have half the friends I do now.

“Mr. DeHaan also understands how tough life can be, and he does everything he can to prevent the lives of his students from getting any tougher. This year especially there have been a lot of personal and family afflictions that some of the students have faced, and Mr. DeHaan didn’t think twice about helping them out as much as he can. He provides comfort where he can, assures the schedule of our performances doesn’t conflict (assuming that’s a possibility within his power), and he takes time out of his day to make sure we as students feel like a family. That’s just referring to the program in general, but the Madrigal choir specifically is one of the most amazing things I have experienced, and it wouldn’t have been that way without Mr. DeHaan.

“Mr. DeHaan should be teacher of the year, because he includes everyone. He is kind to all, and makes sure that everyone has a great learning experience.”

Congratulations, Kelly, and thank you for your dedication!


Article written by Sarah Wyland

Sarah Wyland
Sarah never gets in trouble for being on Facebook and Instagram at work, because its her job. As social media manager, she gets to tell the stories of travelers, teachers, and interesting places. Other titles she enjoys include dog mom to Knox, barre instructor, Crossfit athlete, avid reader, and world traveler.
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