1999 Swan Award Winner: Dean Semple


sempleDean Semple taught music and was the choir director in Reedley before directing at Porterville High School for 11 years. He was also the choir director at Monache High School the first year the school opened, and taught music and directed for a combined 26 years at Porterville College and Bakersfield College.

Under his direction, the award-winning Chamber Singers of Porterville College and Bakersfield College performed at two ACDA western division and two national conventions.

“The teaching of choral music to high school and community college students has been a totally consuming occupation for me,” Semple said. “The communication of human emotion through music is the element that excites me as well as my students, who then convey the emotion to the audience. When the expression in music is added to beautiful sound, the feelings of mankind are able to transcend generations.”

As a choir director, Semple said he always took his high school choirs on tours through California. The Porterville College choir toured through two or three states, he said.

“I was 14 years old when I first met him,” said Peg (Bonner) Hutson, a former student of his who is now a music director in Visalia. “I adore him. He was the choir director my first year at Monache when I was a freshman in high school.”

Hutson, then Bonner, said she had Semple as an instructor and director again at Porterville College where she was involved in choir, drama and musicals.

“I have stayed in touch with him since then,” Hutson said. “He’s such an inspiration. Dean was the one who first put me in front of a choir and said, ‘Conduct.’ It scared me to death but was happy he trusted me enough to do that. He made me believe that music was an expression of emotion, based on how we direct. That was an exciting understanding.”

Hutson, the current choir director at Valley Oak Middle School in Visalia, said she and Semple have served together on the California and the Western Division ACDA boards.

“I know what a huge honor this award is and I can’t imagine anyone who deserves it more,” Hutson said. “He is a wonderful man and deserving of the honor. I’m excited for him.”

Hutson was not the only one, Fred Knutson — choir director at Pioneer Middle School and conductor of the community’s Sierra Vocal Arts Ensemble — also praised Semple.

“I’ve known of him since junior high and had him as a choir director at Porterville College. He was a great inspiration for me in my career path. He has served as a mentor over the years and is a good friend,” Knutson said. “This is a very-well deserved honor for him.”

Through his career, Semple, who is a lifetime member of the American Choral Directors Association, past president of CMEA Central Section and the Tulare, Kings County Music Educators Association and past CMEA California State Choral Representative, has received numerous other awards, including the Howard Swan Award in 1999 — the highest honor bestowed in California for choir.

Semple, a 1955 graduate of Dakota Wesleyan, with a masters from CSU San Jose in 1962, and his wife Joy, have three grown children — Curt Semple in Napa, Keith Semple in Encinitas and Diane Semple Cameron in Castaic — and nine grandchildren.

Dean Semple has been given the prestigious 2012 ACDA Western Division Conference Honoree Award. OCR Education is a website, featuring top, accredited online institutes. These colleges and universities offer various courses and/or degree programs in various academic disciplines. Online education is becoming popular by the day. Over 6 million students have enrolled in online courses and these numbers are growing.