A distinguished KWU alumnus is returning to campus, as Jake Montoya ’05 has accepted the position of director of athletic and jazz bands. Montoya will take a leadership role in the Music Department’s recruiting process and will have a role in alumni engagement, as well.
“This is a home run hire for KWU’s Music program,” said Ken Oliver, executive vice president of advancement and university operations. “We believe in community, we believe in the student experience, and we believe that Kansas Wesleyan is a special, unique place that offers something other small colleges do not. Jake Montoya not only shares these feelings but is uniquely positioned to integrate them into this position.”
Montoya brings a litany of experiences to his new role, as he joins KWU after 10 years as the instrumental music director at USD 305. There, he was the director of bands and jazz bands for Lakewood Middle School and assisted with the Salina Central High School band. For his efforts, he was tabbed Secondary Teacher of the Year by the district in 2017-18.
His laurels do not end in the classroom, however. Montoya spent two years as the Salina Symphony’s Junior Symphony director and served as a musician at both Theatre Salina and the symphony for nearly five years.
“Coming back to KWU, for me, is coming home,” said Montoya. “I built roots here and hope to do that for numerous students in the years to come. My goal is to build a program that our students and staff can grow in, to cultivate a family-like atmosphere and create opportunities for everyone to be successful, not only musically but in whatever paths they choose.”
In addition to his significant awards and community contributions, Montoya’s resumé is one of patience and hard work. Prior to his decade at USD 305, he spent eight years at USD 393 in Solomon, where he worked with numerous ensembles and increased the overall size of the band program exponentially. He also was the athletic and activities director for two years, which included overseeing all coaching staff and sponsorships for the district.
“Yes, Kansas Wesleyan is home, but so is this region,” said Montoya, who originally hails from Wyoming. “I have truly grown fond of Salina and the surrounding area, and there are many individuals here who helped me grow into the educator I am today. I’m excited about the opportunity to give back to them and to this wonderful community, and I look forward to building relationships that open tremendous doors for our students.”
“It’s so important to have someone committed to the community in this role,” said Oliver. “When you’re building a program, it takes both professional and community connections to create a culture that enhances the student experience. We see that idea, that philosophy, as an extension of The Power of AND. Few people better embody that philosophy than Jake Montoya.”
Montoya was an adjunct instructor at KWU for two years, teaching primarily guitar, and has taught studio lessons in Salina for nearly 20 years. While a student, he held numerous roles associated with KWU bands, including student director of pep bands, student director of bands and band manager. He was named the outstanding musician in symphonic and jazz ensembles, as well as the outstanding jazz musician, during his time as a Coyote.
“To be selected for this role is truly a gift,” Montoya concluded. “I cannot wait to add to the greatness of the KWU experience, to build a sense of togetherness, and to foster pride in our campus and in who we are as Coyotes. It’s great to be home!”
Montoya will begin his duties on a part-time basis in the coming weeks and will start full-time later this summer.