Holy Spirit teacher wins outstanding music educator in the northeast district of the Kansas Music Educators Association
by Monte Mace
OVERLAND PARK — Connie Maltby traces the beginnings of her music ministry at Holy Spirit School here back to her roots in Wetmore and St. James Parish where she played the organ at Mass — and, yes, sang and danced while milking the cows on her family’s dairy farm.
Since those days, she’s come a long way: earning a master’s degree in music, directing choir and teaching at Holy Spirit for a total of 22 years, then winning an award late last year as outstanding music educator in the northeast district of the Kansas Music Educators Association.
Maltby gives a lot of the credit for her accomplishments to others, including early music encouragement from her parents Linus and Anita Haverkamp, and the support of Holy Spirit’s pastors and principals for expanding the music education program and starting activities like band and drum line.
“It’s a very rewarding job, even if the students don’t become music majors,” she said. “That’s not my goal. It’s to allow them to appreciate and enjoy music for a lifetime and share their God-given talent. My hope is they’ll become part of their church’s music ministry and have a love for music.”
Growing up, Maltby took piano lessons beginning in fourth grade, then went to Benedictine College in Atchison for advanced lessons. She got an undergraduate music degree at the University of Kansas, a master’s at Wichita State, then taught at Clearwater USD 264 and Cowley County Community College. She took time off to raise her children, Brianna and Garrett, and finally landed in her current job at Holy Spirit School. Her children participated in choir and band at Holy Spirit under her direction.
This year, she has about 350 students in classes, choir or band. Over the years, she estimates she has taught music to a total of 2,500 to 3,000 students — and some very appreciative ones, at that.
“She’s great,” said former student Thomas Martin. He’s now a freshman at the University of Missouri and plans to study voice. “She’s the first person who got me into choir. If not for her, I probably wouldn’t have done it. I hope to have a music career, maybe opera.”
Former students stay in touch with Maltby and sometimes sing with Holy Spirit choirs when they return home.
Holy Spirit pastor Father Richard Storey said Maltby isn’t afraid to challenge students or the 9 a.m. choir members in order to get the very best out of them.
“Connie is truly gifted and yet she doesn’t sit on this talent,” said Father Storey. “She uses it to help others come to know and love Christ in and through great liturgical music.
“Connie could certainly be working anywhere she would like with the talent she has, but she chooses Catholic education, and the universal church truly benefits from this decision.”
School principal Michele Watson said Connie “does so much in our building without thought of herself.”
“Connie Maltby is an exceptional musician and music teacher,” Watson said. “I have seen our children flourish in their musical ability, love of music and confidence while under her wings. Our younger students cannot wait until they are old enough to try out for concert choir or to be in band. The music they produce along with the performances are exceptional. I always love to say we have the ‘best free shows in town.’”
The school’s choirs also perform at the Gaudeamus banquet, Crown Center Christmas events, at local nursing homes and elsewhere.
One of Maltby’s favorite memories came at the end of one school year six or seven years ago. The 8th-graders wrote a song to her entitled, “Because of You,” and sang it at a public concert. The lyrics said, in part, “We are here today because of you, because you cared enough to show us. You’ve given so much, and we’re grateful.”
The show of appreciation brought Maltby to tears, and the words continue to be an inspiration to her.
Fortunately, she’s found the song a place of honor that still keeps it close at hand.
She keeps a copy of it on her piano.