Lennard Holden is celebrating 15 years as the Director of Bands at Southwood High School with a new honor.
In October, he was awarded the Robert Wilhite Award of Excellence by the Louisiana Music Educators Association. Holden is the first to receive this award which pays homage to an educator who taught music to disadvantaged students for 49 years in St. Landry Parish.
“I’m very humbled to receive this award,” Holden said. “The award is named after someone I look up to. He is a very influential director who really made a name for himself.”
Holden first picked up an instrument when he was in the seventh grade at Bethune Middle School. Although he was first interested in playing saxophone, he started with the trumpet and quickly began to catch on and add more instruments to his catalog. Holden dedicated his life to learning everything he could about music and now plays all instruments. He credits music for giving his life purpose.
“I know personally, music changed me and it saved me,” Holden said. “When I was a kid and first entered the band room, a seed was planted. When I went onto high school, it was like an explosion of endless possibilities of what I could do. I would have never gone to college or had any real goals if it wasn’t for music and band.”
That feeling inspired him to become an educator. Holden graduated from Mississippi College with his bachelor’s degree and began working as a band director in Mississippi. After just two years, he made the move back home to Shreveport where he accepted the offer at Southwood High, following the path of his former band director from Fair Park High School, Cleveland White.
“I understand the importance of providing leaders that can establish nurturing music programs,” White said. “He illustrates a vision of establishing immeasurable goals. He has established a cordial relationship with the school community and is respected by his students and peers. Proud is an understatement.”
Holden is respected by many, including district administrators.
“To put it simply, Mr. Holden is awe-inspiring,” said Toby Quarles, music curriculum-instructional specialist at Caddo Schools. “There are very few educators or human beings that I look up to a much as him. He is one of very few teachers that I can, without hesitation, refer to as ‘a legend’.”
This honor adds to Holden’s collection of local, state and even national awards during his tenure.
“I knew how special I felt in that band room, and I knew I wanted to recreate that feeling for myself and other students,” Holden said. “That means a lot to me to set an example for others.”