Kiley Coyne

Kiley Coyne

Head Director of Bands, Washington High School
Sioux Falls, SD
B.A. Music Education, 2013, M.M. Conducting, 2015

"My advice to current students is take a couple moments each day to walk through USD campus, especially Shakespeare Gardens! It's so easy to be stressed in college and I have found that many problems can be solved by some exercise and taking a moment to breathe. Remember that whatever stress you feel now is helping you be better equipped to handle life after college."

Q&A with Kiley:

Describe your current educational or professional pursuits.

When I was 14 years old, I made the decision to be a band director for, hopefully, a Sioux Falls High School – though any high school would have been fine. Every educational decision I have made since has been in pursuit of that goal. After graduating USD with a Bachelor of Music Education and a master’s in conducting, I got my first job teaching music in a K-12 school in Parker, South Dakota. I am so grateful to their administration for taking a chance on a first-year teacher and I really enjoyed all of the staff and students in Parker. One year later, I was awarded the position of assistant director of bands at Washington High School in Sioux Falls. This meant that by year two of post-graduation, I had achieved my professional goal of being a band director in a Sioux Falls high school. Luckily, one year into my assistant position, the head director of bands position opened, and I have since been the head director of bands at Washington High School for the past two years. I am very fortunate that I set a goal at 14 years old and by 27, I had achieved that goal.

How did your USD experience influence your career path?

While I pride myself on being extremely organized and high-achieving, I would be remiss if I did not credit USD with helping me achieve my professional goals. The instructors that I had truly inspired me to be not only a great teacher, but a great musician. They were patient, understanding and rigorous in their coursework, which helped me prepare to be a professional in the workforce. All of my professors cared not just about my achievement in class but also helped me with interviews when that time came. I feel like I not only learned the mechanics of being a teacher but also how to be a compassionate teacher and love what I do.

Tell us about your proudest achievement.

I would say, professionally, my proudest achievement is being the 2018 recipient of the South Dakota Music Education Association (SDMEA) Outstanding Young Music Educator's Award. I didn’t choose this job to be recognized; however, four years into teaching I am happy that I am making a difference. Personally, I would say my proudest achievement is being a compassionate and personable teacher for my students. I am nothing other than myself every day in class: a caring individual. My philosophy for teaching music is simply to instill a love of the arts and to infuse lifelong lessons like perseverance, dedication, and time-management – lessons that one learns involuntarily by participating in music but will aid them their whole life after. I hope that my students know that I care for them far past whatever musical ability they possess and am happy to spend each day in band with them creating music, building relationships and helping them with all that comes after high school.

What was your USD experience like? Were you involved in any campus organizations or activities?

Attending USD was the best choice I could have made for my future career. As a musician, I was involved in a multitude of performing ensembles including The Sound of USD, The Color of USD, Symphonic Band, Concert Band, USD Chamber Singers, Concert Choir, Band Council, and I also served as a graduate teaching assistant for many musical courses and ensembles while earning my master's degree.

The best part of my USD experience though was that I really grew to become a member of the community. I would be lying if I said I didn't shed tears when it finally came time to leave Vermillion. My favorite part of Vermillion – in addition to performing in the Dakota Days parade – was working in downtown Vermillion. I was a barista and server at Cafe Brule and I not only felt at home with my managers and fellow co-workers, but I came to know and have several "regulars" that I would serve and talk to. The community vibe and kindness of the people in Vermillion is unlike any other and I sincerely grew to love living there.

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