Linda Huff Keefer

TODA Orchestra Director of the Year - 2014

 

Linda Huff Keefer began playing violin at age 9, using an instrument she found in her grandmother’s closet. No one else in her family had been involved in music.  Linda was the only string player in her grade level at Lawndale Elementary School in Amarillo. That meant class periods were basically private lessons with Betty Bledsoe, a violinist in the Amarillo Symphony.  Linda played in Ira Wall’s orchestra at Bowie Junior High, and at Caprock High School under Jim Restine. She was a long-time private student of Pat Jones, who helped cultivate her love for orchestra students and music education.  Linda was an All-State Orchestra member in her junior and senior years, and also performed with the Amarillo Symphony.  She then completed a BME and a MA degree at West Texas State University in Canyon.

After a year as Girls’ Drum Corp Director at Ysleta High School in El Paso, Linda moved to teach in a newly formed orchestra program at Hereford ISD with Charles Jones. Then, a life-changing, career-defining phone call to Dean Corey in Arlington  ISD resulted in her becoming one of the “founding mothers” of the Arlington ISD orchestra program.  In 1972, every young string player in the Arlington schools was a beginner! Linda taught at five elementary schools a day. She moved into the junior high schools and later taught at both Lamar and Arlington high schools.  With her long-time friend Amanda Musser, Linda had the thrill of conducting the Bailey Junior High Orchestra in its 1995 TMEA Honor Orchestra performance. Upon her retirement at AHS, the program boasted more than 250 students and seven orchestras. The AHS Symphony received the UIL Sweepstakes honors consistently since 1979, won Best In Class awards at music festivals around the nation, and placed several times in the Texas Honor Orchestra finals. In addition to many former students who now teach on the college level and perform with major symphony orchestras, there are more than 20 Texas orchestra directors who graduated from AHS.

Ashley Johnson, who teaches at Apollo Junior High in Richardson, is one of them.  She says about Linda, “Every teacher becomes a teacher because of a teacher. I have been blessed to have Linda Keefer be that remarkable, generous and caring teacher who inspired me to pursue a career as an orchestra teacher.  What a wonderful life I have because of her! She taught me the secret to a successful program – love the students, make it all about them and everything else will fall into place.”

In June 2013, Linda retired after having taught orchestra in Texas for 43 years.

Linda received many accolades during her career, including Arlington High School Teacher of the Year and the Texas Alumni Excellence in Teaching Award in 1999. She is a member of TODA, TMEA and TMAA, and a charter member of Mu Omicron.

Linda says of her recent honor: “I am the one who is blessed. My sweet mom, my dad, my three brothers, Uncle Bill, the incredible Arlington ISD Orchestra faculty, past and present, the thousands who have been part of the orchestra program at AHS, my son, Nathan, who gave me the ultimate compliment by becoming the orchestra director at AHS – and my daughter Trisha, whose spirit and spunk will now bless her new students as she becomes an orchestra/choir teacher in the Austin ISD. It wasn’t always easy to be Keefer’s Kid!  I am extremely honored to be named 2014 TODA ODY!  Thank you to my former students who nominated me and to my peers on the TODA Board for this recognition!”