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Presidential Kudos for Ku

(Photo - John Ku)John Ku makes sure the kindergarteners at Canoas Elementary School know all the classics from the Hokey Pokey to The Beatles' Blackbird. Ku has been volunteering with Music for Minors since 2005 three to four days a week and his efforts have not gone unnoticed. He was recently awarded a President's Volunteer Service Award at a special luncheon honoring local recipients.

"I had no idea I was going to get an award," said Ku. "It came as a complete surprise."

The award was created in 2003 by the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation to honor volunteers throughout the country. Service organizations, such as Music for Minors, can keep track of volunteers' hours and submit candidates for the award. There are three levels of awards; bronze, silver and gold. Ku received the bronze award, reserved for those who contribute over 100 hours in a year. Although if his hours spent as a reading tutor at his church had been counted, he would have been well over 500 hours.

"When Music for Minors told me I was receiving a presidential award, I was skeptical at first, thinking it was like a Presidential paint job for a car," laughed Ku. "But then I found out it's from the actual President of the United States!"

Ku first began teaching music to kindergarteners in 2005 when his oldest son began school. He and his wife were surprised to find there were no formal music or arts classes for the primary grades. This is not atypical, as California schools receive the least amount of funding of the 50 states for the arts.

"It was sort of a shock to my wife and me," said Ku. "I decided that I could teach him at home, but if I was going to be teaching anyway, it would be nice to bring it to the entire school."

Ku's son has since moved on to higher grade levels, but Ku has remained with the kindergarteners. It's the age when children are first able to control their voices, he says. Teaching at this age level allows him to set a foundation the children can build on for life. Ku also helped train four more volunteers this past year to teach other grades at the elementary school.

"Music and art education develop different areas of the brain," said Ku. "I believe this is essential for well-rounded, fully-developed children."

—Ken Kingery, SLAC Today, June 27, 2007

Above image: John Ku with his President's Volunteer Service Award. (Click on image for larger version.)