KMEA Hall of Fame
Jean Severance Ney
Inducted in 2014
Jean Severance Ney credits any career success she has garnered to her parents, Dr. Bob and Dorcas Severance. They chose to raise their family near Beloit in North Central Kansas. There, the musical opportunities and education she received prepared her for life in the big city. Upon her graduation from Kansas State University, Jean taught band for three years in the Marion-Florence schools. The communities were very arts-oriented, and she would have stayed there if her new husband, Timothy, had not gone back to school near Kansas City. Jean was hired by the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools as the first female secondary band and orchestra instructor in 1978. Working in the ethnically diverse community with children whose greatest common denominator was poverty became her life mission. Putting beauty in the lives of those for whom not much beauty existed was her career objective.

In 1993 Jean was asked to move into the Music Supervisor role for the fifty KCKPS schools. She served in that capacity under her mentor, Dr. John Albertson, until his retirement in 2000. At that time a consolidation of administrative roles in the district occurred, and Jean was appointed the Coordinator of Fine Arts (Visual Art, Music, Theatre, & Dance) and Physical Education. In this new role she quickly learned the difference between kiln models as well as the finer points of buying rubber chickens. Her biggest asset in her role, though, was the superb Art, Music, Theatre, Dance, and PE staff members who also had dedicated their lives to teaching children in the urban core. The KCKPS Board of Education and the five district superintendents she served were extremely supportive of the arts. One example of that support was their funding of Arts Partners, a systemic K-12 arts program above and beyond the regular curriculum. A branch of Kansas City Young Audiences, Arts Partners became a national model for over thirty years. It has enabled thousands of urban students to experience the plethora of live arts programming and concerts available in the metropolitan area at no cost. During Jean's tenure in KCK three major grants were received in the Fine Arts Department. Partnering with the University of Kansas, well over $1.5 million USDE dollars helped KCKPS teachers study everything from how to teach music in a cross-curricular, technology rich environment to Skillful Thinking in the Arts.

Of course, one of the highlights of Jean's career was her involvement with KMEA. Serving first as the secretary for (then) District I, then as the Northeast District President, and then as State KMEA President, Jean treasured the dear music teacher friends that she made across the State and nation while serving the organization. Two of the major accomplishments during her stint as KMEA President included restructuring the entire ISW Finale Concerts so that all groups performed in the Century II Concert Hall, and the foundation of the KMEA Fund within the Greater Salina Community Foundation. Jean served on the Kansas State High School Activities Association advisory board for four years, and was honored by the board as the 2012 NFHS Music Educator of the Year.

In addition to her career in education, Jean served as Staff Organist/Pianist and Chancel Handbell Director for the Bonner Springs United Methodist Church for over thirty years and as the state registrar for the Kansas State Chapter of P.E.O. All of this would not have been possible, though, without the love and support of her dear family: husband Timothy, daughter Katie (Steve) Douglas, son Joshua (Carol) Ney, and her seven perfect grandchildren.