Our Directors

Ed Colson


After 36 years as a Kansas Educator, Ed Colson retired in 2009. Over the span of those 36 years, he was director of bands at Pomona High School, Rosedale Middle School, Oregon Trail Junior High and Olathe Northwest High School.

Ed graduated from Baker University in 1973. He earned his Master’s Degree from that same institution in 1988.

Ed served as the Kansas Music Educators Association District I Junior High/Middle School Band Chairman from 1983-1991. During that tenure, he developed the Junior High and Middle School Festival Bands that are still in existence today.

Ed received the National Band Associations Outstanding Jazz Educator Award in 1992. Ed received the National Band Association Award for Outstanding Jazz Education in 1993. He is listed in the 1991, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1998, and 2000, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 editions of Who’s Who of American Teachers. He is listed in the 2006 edition of Outstanding American Teachers. Ed is a 2010 recipient of inclusion in the Presidential Who’s Who as well as the Cambridge Who’s Who. He received the Outstanding Jazz Educator Award from the National Band Association in 1994. In 1999, he was the first recipient of the Outstanding Middle Level Music Teacher Award for the Northeastern District of Kansas, an award presented by the Kansas Music Educators Association. This award is still being presented annually today. He was an Olathe District finalist for the Kansas Master Teacher of the Year award that same year. In November of 2001, Ed received the Educator Excellence Award presented by the Olathe Public Schools Foundation, just the second educator to receive the award. In April of 2003, Ed was notified that he was the recipient of The John Philip Sousa Legion of Honor Award. This award is presented to band directors who have established a tradition of excellence in their profession. He was officially inducted into the Legion of Honor on December 19, 2003, at the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, Illinois. Ed is co-founder of the Penn Valley/Kansas City Jazz Festival. Ed and his wife Judy were recognized in May of 2009, on the floor of the Kansas Senate with an official resolution honoring their service to Kansas Public Education. Ed and Judy were also 2009 recipients of the City of Olathe’s Community Pride Award recognizing them for their contributions to the city of Olathe, Kansas. Ed is the co-founder of the Kansas John Philip Sousa Junior Honor Band. Since its inception in 2003, the Kansas Junior Honor Band has become the model for similar groups all over the United States.

In early 2008, the
Olathe News/Kansas City Star listed Ed as number 40 on their list of the 150 most notable people in Olathe’s 150-year history.

In 1999, Ed accepted the position as director of the Olathe Civic Band. He continues in that role today. During his tenure, the band has grown from 40 members to its present size of 122.

Ed continues to serve as both a clinician and adjudicator. He is very involved in the Community. He is on Olathe’s Sister Cities Committee. He is co-chair for the Optimist Club Annual Golf Tournament benefiting Camp Quality. Ed is also on the board of directors for the Olathe Arts Alliance. And he continues to coach the Olathe Northwest High School Men’s Golf Team.  

Janet Wittkopf

Assistant Director

Janet Wittkopf taught in the Gardner Edgerton school district for 33 years from 1979 to 2012.  She earned her bachelor’s degree from Emporia State University and her master’s degree from Kansas University in Music Education.  In 2001 she completed her administration certification from Emporia State University and became the school district fine arts director as well as continuing her position as the head band director.  While teaching at the Gardner Edgerton school district Janet watched the school grow from a small 3A school of about 350 high school students to a 6A school of about 1400 students.  During that time she started an orchestra program that now has over 400 students enrolled.  

Her goal was to continue the legacy of success of the GEHS Band program and the love of music.  Upon her retirement the GEHS band had earned all Superior (One) ratings at the Kansas State High School Activities Association Large Music Festival, for a record of 47 One ratings over 50 years.  Since her retirement in 2012 she gives private lessons in her home and enjoys volunteering for various activities.