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.  

Jena McElwain

Assistant Director

Jena is in her eighth year of teaching in the Olathe School District. She was the Director of Bands at Santa Fe Trail Jr. High for four years before opening Olathe’s newest and 8th Jr. High in 2004, Prairie Trail. She currently has 3 performing concert bands and two jazz big bands collectively, comprising the largest band enrollment in the city of Olathe. Prior to that, Jena was the Director of Bands for the Riley County School District where she taught grades 5-12 instrumental and vocal music.

Jena received her Bachelor of Music degree from Kansas State University. While at Kansas State, she served as the Executive Assistant for the KSU Jazz Festival for four years and helped promote The Basie Way education program. Jena had the privilege to work with such artists as Jon Faddis, Kevin Mahogany, Carmen Bradford, New York Voices, and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. She also performed with The Count Basie Orchestra while in attendance at Kansas State University.

During Mrs. McElwain’s time at Santa Fe, the bands received numerous I ratings at Worlds of Fun and Pittsburg Jazz Festival competitions. Prairie Trail is off to the same great start as all of the competing bands have received I ratings so far. All Prairie Trail Jazz Bands have received I ratings at every competition and festival they have performed in since the school’s opening in 2004. Also, nearly 30% of the Prairie Trail student body is currently enrolled in the band program. Jena has also been named in the 2006 edition of Who’s Who of American Teachers and was the nominee for Kansas Teacher of the Year from Prairie Trail for 2005-2006 and Master Teacher of the Year nominee for 2007-2008.

Jena has held the position of Assistant Director of the Civic Band since 2001. She shares conducting duties as well as plays baritone and bass guitar in the Civic Band. She is married to Rob, who is also a member of the Civic Band, and has a 4 year old son, Bryce and a 21 month old daughter, Jacey.