Ben Thomas reporter
Each year the Kansas Music Educators Association (KMEA) chooses a small handful of individuals to be inducted into their Hall of Fame. And this year, Craig Fuchs, longstanding music professor, former music department chair, and former director of the Honors College, at Pittsburg State University is being inducted into the KMEA Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023.
As stated by the KMEA, being inducted into the Hall of Fame is the highest award bestowed by the organization. The award honors members of the music education community in Kansas who have made a significant contribution to the growth of music in the state of Kansas. Any music educator who has impacted music education in an exceptional manner may be considered.
In order to be nominated for the honor there are several stipulations and qualifications, including 10 different support letters from outside individuals who believe they should be inducted. In Fuchs’ case, they came from the people’s lives he touched over the years.
“I had no idea this was coming,” said Fuchs, “I have some amazing former students and colleagues who chose to go through this process.”
Fuchs describes the event of finding out about his induction in an unlikely fashion.
“I got a text from one of my students asking if they could Zoom with me one night, it was her and another guy who were working on a project. I thought, ‘yeah sure’ so we set up a time thinking it was just going to be the two of them. And I opened up the Zoom call and the screen had like 10 people on the screen… all friends of mine that were in the profession,” said Fuches. “And then they all went around and talked a bit about the impact I’ve had on their lives so there were lots of tears shed that night. It was so heartwarming to hear their comments ”
Gae Phillips, the band director at Columbus High School and the Vice President of the Hall of Fame, was the one to break the news to Fuchs.
“It’s just so incredibly rewarding for me, and I think the most rewarding thing is that it came from my former students. I know the letters I’ve written for others who have been inducted and they’re colleagues of mine, people I’ve worked with or taught with or knew on the teaching side of things,” said Fuchs. “And these students are now teachers which is cool, they’ve become band directors in the state of Kansas… It just says that maybe what we do in the classroom has an impact we don’t even know is happening.”
And though Fuchs is now retired; he hopes to still affect the music community in small ways.
“I’m no longer teaching or conducting so I don’t know that I’ll have a lot of connection with music students in the future. I got invited to come out and visit a couple of schools which I always do, so I’ll stay and keep my hand in the fire a little bit in my retirement. I think for the most part my work is done and my career speaks for itself. I’ve had a very blessed career and am perfectly happy in my retirement.”
His induction will take place on Feb. 23-25 at the Century II Convention Center in Wichita and is a part of the KMEA State Convention.