On Saturdays you won’t find Klein Oak alum Katherine Dodgen relaxing or taking in a sports event. You can find her hosting strings camps for students at Klein Intermediate.
During her junior year, Dodgen began organizing and conducting classes for orchestra students and providing them free of charge. This endeavor has earned her the Student Hero Award from the State Board of Education. This inaugural award recognizes students, in all regions of Texas, who do kind acts that benefit their classmates or other students in their school district. Only one student per each of the 15 districts can be recognized.
“My love of music began the first day of my fifth grade strings class,” said Dodgen. “I chose to play the cello because it is the stringed instrument that sounds most like the human voice.”
It was this love and passion, as well as Dodgen’s involvement with Girl Scouts that led her to the idea of providing a beginner strings instruction camp for low-income students who could not otherwise afford music lessons. Her vision quickly turned in to the Super Strings Saturday workshops which combined three of her passions: working with music, orchestra and students.
Dodgen enlisted the help of her friends and family as well as 50 student volunteers from the four high school orchestras. In its first year, the workshop had a total of 93 students. Currently the Klein Intermediate School orchestra has the highest retention rate and the largest orchestra in the school’s history, thanks to this program.
“Several parents whose child attended my workshops came up to personally thank me for what I did. I was pleasantly surprised to hear how much I positively affected many different students’ lives,” said Dodgen.
In its second year, the program increased by 20 students and the program will continue this fall with the help of students in the Klein Chapter of the Texas Future Music Educators Club. Most of the students that participated in the Super Strings Saturday have continued to play in their school’s orchestras and there has been an overall increase of students in the orchestra program.
“I could not have done this without all of the students who volunteered, the support of the orchestra community and the Klein ISD administration,” she said. “My biggest thanks and appreciation goes to Mrs. Fishburn, Mrs. Arnold and Mr. Gist who were there to help and guide me along the way.”
Dodgen graduated from Klein Oak High School this year and will be attending the University of Texas at Arlington to pursue a degree in music education. She plans to be an orchestra director and hopes to find a teaching position at home, in Klein ISD.
“It’s hard to describe what an amazing feeling you get when you put your heart into doing something for others,” Dodgen said. “I would encourage everyone to share their passion with others because that is what made a difference in my life.”