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Milligan alumnus to receive Yale Distinguished Educator Award

Collins_MarkMILLIGAN COLLEGE, TN (May 16, 2013) — Milligan College alumnus Mark Collins is among those selected to receive the 2013 Yale Distinguished Music Educator Award next month.

This award is presented biennially to 50 music educators selected for their outstanding accomplishments teaching music in the nation’s public schools. Collins, who earned his master of education degree from Milligan in 2007, is the director of bands at John S. Battle High School in Bristol, Va. He was selected for the award from a pool of nearly 300 nominees representing 45 states.

Award recipients attend, all expenses paid, the Symposium on Music in Schools, which is held every two years at the Yale School of Music as part of its Music in Schools Initiative. The honors will be conferred at the symposium’s awards dinner on Saturday, June 8.

Collins has worked in public education for 27 years, and this recognition is a culmination of a career spent sharing his passion for music.

“Music is the vehicle I use to create opportunities for students,” Collins said. “Some of my students have become professional musicians. But for the rest of them, music still is something they can enjoy throughout their lives, no matter what they do.”

Collins discovered his own interest in music when he started playing the drums at 3 years of age and later took up the piano at age 8.

“But I wanted to be a doctor, and it wasn’t until I was a junior in high school that I realized I was teaching my peers at rural schools how to play music and that was what I loved to do,” Collins said.

Collins changed his senior schedule and embarked on a career in music education. After earning a bachelor of science degree in music education from Tennessee Tech University in 1986, Collins taught music in Nashville for five years. During that time, the concert bands and marching bands he directed earned state and national accolades.

He came to John Battle High School in 1991. Under Collins’ leadership, The John S. Battle High School Band and Wallace Middle School Bands have established a national reputation of musical achievement and accomplishment. During the bands’ history, they have performed at the Virginia Music Educators Conference (2008), two concert tours of Hawaii that included performances at the Arizona Memorial and USS Bowfin Memorial, the National Middle School Conference and the Virginia Middle School conference.

Collins’ students have earned coveted spots in the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band (2011, 2013) and the 2012 Macy’s Great American Honor Marching Band. In addition, the band has performed in the United Nations Building Grand Hall in New York City, the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Martin Luther King Memorial Park, Chicago Concert Band Invitational, and “The Star Spangled Banner” at a Baltimore Orioles baseball game and at a New Jersey Devils hockey game.

His concert groups have performed with U.S. Navy Band (ret.) principal saxophonist, Dale Underwood, and the Battle Percussion Ensemble has performed with legendary jazz drummer Joe Morrello and the renowned She-e Wu.

Collins continues to develop his expertise as a musician and educator. After completing his M.Ed. at Milligan, Collins earned an education specialist degree in administration from Lincoln Memorial University (Harrogate, Tenn.) in 2011.

He credits his time at Milligan for preparing him well for the unique challenges of music education.

“I had a great experience in Milligan’s education department in general, and particularly in the research component of the program,” Collins said.

While at Milligan, he researched “The Music Effect on Students at the Collegiate Level” and was invited to present his findings at the 2006 Southern Regional Research Conference.

Collins’ passion for educating the next generation of music educators led him to start his own company called Innovative Band Camps. This company is dedicated to providing leadership and music fundamental workshops to teachers and students in rural communities.

“My curriculum is designed around being a servant-leader, which is part of Milligan’s mission, as well,” Collins said. “I appreciated that emphasis at Milligan and apply it to what I teach my students every day.”

In addition to teaching music, Collins enjoys playing music. He has performed with multiple artists and as a percussionist in the Symphony of the Mountains. He is also a member of the one-year-old ensemble State Line Wind Symphony, comprised of 80 community members, band directors, college students and other music professionals.

Collins is married to Melinda Collins, chair of Milligan’s nursing area. They reside in Kingsport, Tenn.

To learn more about Milligan’s master of education program, visit www.milligan.edu.


MILLIGAN UNIVERSITY is a Christian liberal arts university in Northeast Tennessee whose vision is to change lives and shape culture through a commitment to servant leadership. The university offers more than 100 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in a variety of fields, along with graduate and adult degree completion programs.  To learn more about Milligan University, visit www.milligan.edu or call 800-262-8337.

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