Congratulations to Carpentersville Middle School's Michael Kasper and Beth Wood, who have both been named Music Educators of the Year by the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra.

"It's unusual for us to give this award to two teachers in one year, but this is a dynamic duo," said EYSO Artistic Director Randal Swiggum. "Together, they strongly model collaboration for their students, and they have gotten hundreds of kids excited about music -- and not just the joy of playing an instrument at a high level, but also the rewards of hard work and commitment. They are making a difference."

On Sunday, March 11, the EYSO will present Kasper and Wood with awards during the "Water" concert, with performances at 2, 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. in the ECC Arts Center Blizzard Theatre, 1700 Spartan Drive.

Kasper and Wood will be recognized from the stage at each of the three performances and at a reception from 5:45 to 7:15 p.m. in the theater lobby.

Kasper has served as band director for nine years at Carpentersville Middle School, where he directs the seventh- and eighth-grade concert bands, which have more than doubled in enrollment in recent years. He also directs two auditioned jazz bands. With colleague and noted jazz educator Mark Bettcher, Kasper has grown the school's jazz program from nonexistent to what has been described as a "treasure of the school." The jazz ensembles perform regularly throughout the District 300 community and throughout the Chicago area.

Wood has taught strings in District 300 for 17 years. Currently at Carpentersville Middle School, Wood conducts the seventh- and eighth-grade orchestras. With a strong interest in string pedagogy, Wood has also overseen tremendous growth at the school, both in student participation and artistic excellence. Wood is an alumna of the EYSO, having played in its top group, the Youth Symphony, during her high school years.

For tickets to "Water," call (847) 622-0300 or go to