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IVCC music appreciation instructor nominated for state award

Jennifer Mills conducts a warm-up prior to a concert at Aurora University. Mills has been nominated by IVCC for the 2020 ICCTA Outstanding Part-time Faculty Member Award.
Jennifer Mills conducts a warm-up prior to a concert at Aurora University. Mills has been nominated by IVCC for the 2020 ICCTA Outstanding Part-time Faculty Member Award.

Illinois Valley Community College part-time music appreciation instructor Jennifer Mills of Princeton has been nominated for a state award.

Mills, Director of Bands at Aurora University and a 15-year member of IVCC’s Wind Ensemble, has been nominated by IVCC for the Illinois Community College Trustees Association Outstanding Part-time Faculty Member Award.

A 10-year instructor at IVCC, she won the college’s Outstanding Part-time Faculty Member Award in March. Therapeutic massage instructor Roxanne Cherpeske of Oglesby was also nominated for the IVCC award.

Mills provides students with fun, interactive, internet-based assignments such as YouTube scavenger hunts, beatboxing mixes, the use of videos to create their own compositions and uses modern music to enhance traditional assignments thus making a lecture-style course more relevant to her students’ modern lives.

She uses her past performances at Carnegie Hall and for the Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals to help students better understand music performance and the music industry.

Mills inspires students to share her passion for music. Bill Strong of Ottawa, who nominated her for the IVCC award, said Mills’ class led him to a far greater appreciation of music.

Mills said it is a privilege to teach music: “I believe ours is a special profession and that through this magnificent vehicle we call music, we have a unique means by which we change and enrich lives forever.”

Highly qualified for the classroom, Mills has 17 years of teaching experience and holds an associate of arts from Lincoln Trail College in Robinson, a bachelor’s in music from Eastern Illinois University and a master’s in music education from Kent State University.

“I attended a community college, so I feel I can offer my students something special because I’ve done what they’re doing,” said Mills.

She was a music teacher and band director downstate for three years before moving to the Illinois Valley area in 2006. She continues to be a music educator, conductor, adjudicator and clinician and performs regularly in the area. Her primary instruments are flute and piccolo.

The state winner will be announced at the ICCTA’s awards banquet on June 5 in Chicago.

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