Meet Our Faculty – Dennis Jewett


“My most important accomplishment is watching my students go on to do greater things than I will ever do.”

“Some of my most profound human experiences have occurred in making music as a singer in great choral works. That has extended to the chance to lead young singers to remarkable experiences with great art.”

Responsibilities at KWC
“In addition to directing the Wesleyan Singers and Wesleyan Chorale, I work with my colleagues to lead vocal studies and music education programs. I am the past faculty trustee, and presently, I serve on the Faculty Professional Interest Committee. I am advisor to Sigma Alpha Mu, music director for Theatre Department musical productions, and assist the NetVue initiative to focus our college and students on finding life purpose and calling. I also direct the Owensboro Symphony Chorus, which includes students and community singers.”

“I came to college teaching from a career in public school education and leadership. I had built successful choral programs in middle schools and high schools in Minnesota and North Carolina. A highlight was the opportunity to be the founding artistic director of a multi-district fine arts magnet school in suburban Minneapolis. I have also been a church music director in Baptist, Methodist, United Church of Christ and Presbyterian churches since I was 19.”

Reflections on KWC years
“This is year 12. We have come through some difficult times financially and more recently, with Covid. Through that time, we have been able to focus on the students that we have been privileged to teach and nurture. My strongest memories are of remarkable students who have achieved and grown and left an indelible mark on my life. I dare not start mentioning names. We have continued the beautiful tradition of Lessons and Carols each year at St. Stephen Cathedral. A highlight of these years was the Wesleyan Singers tour to Vienna, Prague, Olomouc (Owensboro’s sister city), Leipzig and Berlin.

“We are a such a small community. Everyone is important. Even in difficult times, there is a spirit here that allows us to do together more than any of us could do alone. There is a collective commitment to the College and to our purpose here that strengthens all of us. I am grateful for so many encouraging colleagues and administrators.”

What does The Wesleyan Way mean to you?
“It provides a focus for our campus on the importance of honor, integrity, support and love; all of which should guide our decisions. The idea that challenges me and that I have seen challenge the students is supporting one another, including recognizing achievement in areas that are not ours. Some of my students in orientation last year committed to going to watch one sporting event (that wasn’t their sport) or a play or other event every week of that semester.”

Why did you choose music?
“Most all of us tend to gravitate to the areas where we feel successful or at least, where we are affirmed. I grew up in a musical family. We all sang, we all played instruments in band, my mother played the piano. We performed in church all our lives. I got to march in a state champion high school marching band. It was a natural progression to study music. Some of my most profound human experiences have occurred in making music as a singer in great choral works. That has extended to the chance to lead young singers to remarkable experiences with great art.”

Where did you grow up?
“My father was a minister and growing up, we lived in seven states. I went to middle school, high school and college in different cities in Tennessee. My adult life has taken me to Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, Minnesota, North Carolina, New York and Kentucky. The move to my present house is the 26th house move of my life. I have a huge extended family (80+ first cousins) spread over the country. I am most proud of my two sons, Wade and Mason. They live in Fort Worth and Arlington, Texas, and are the fathers of seven incredibly beautiful and talented grandchildren.”

Life in Owensboro
“In addition to work at KWC, I have been the music director at the First Presbyterian Church for 10 years. Recently, I have been able to work with the International Center to help settle and mentor refugee families. I am the director of the Owensboro Symphony Chorus. I provided the musical direction for our Encore (community theater) production of “Beauty and the Beast” this summer. I was a board member and musical director for five years of shows with Back Alley Musicals. I have been the director of the KMEA Region 2 All-District High School festival twice. I have an active private voice studio for high school students.”