Head of creative arts department Todd Millen has been teaching music here at KO for several years now, but his passion for music began when he played the trombone in the fifth grade. He said he realized he was really good at it and had a lot of fun. He then did his first music summer camp in the sixth grade and knew that he wanted to pursue a career relating to it.
Mr. Millen continued to play his trombone in high school as well and excelled as a musician. He went to the Regional, All State and National levels many times in his high school career. He then went to Northwestern University and received an undergraduate degree in music education. He later taught in rural Illinois for three years.
He then moved to the Boston area and pursued a graduate degree with the trombone. After, Mr. Millen began performing and freelancing in and around New York.
However, Mr. Millen said he missed the classroom so his wife, a professional trombonist who won an audition with the United States Coast Guard band in New London, inspired him to teach full time while continuing to play music.
Mr. Millen then began to look for teaching jobs in Connecticut and said he vividly remembers receiving the one at KO. On a Thursday night, he was looking at a private school job fair and showed up at the conference. The KO band director had announced he was leaving that year, so Mr. Millen found out about the job and came in for an interview. He said that he was really blown away by KO, especially by the teachers who had been here for so long, and he was really wondering what made the school so special to them.
KO then offered Mr. Millen a job, and when he began teaching, he found out what makes the school so special.
“I found out it is a great community because the adult community is close knit, a genuinely friendly atmosphere, which is different from other places I’ve taught at,” he said. “Everybody cares about everybody.”
Mr. Millen said that teaching at KO allows him to do what he loves and still can keep in touch with high level musicians.
“I’m doing what I love, working with young people, and still actively involved musically, so it’s the best of both worlds,” he said.
Sophomore Christopher Sienko has Mr. Millen as his band teacher, and he said he really admires how Mr. Millen always has a positive and cheerful attitude.
Chris said that Mr. Millen is always upbeat and doesn’t show his tiredness: Mr. Millen is always joking around with the class and treats everyone fairly and with respect.
“You can tell he’s very musically talented,” he said, “He always tells us that he can play every instrument at the elementary school level.”
Junior Will Smith said that he likes Mr. Millen’s passion and enthusiasm for the craft of building a sound ensemble. “His interest in details and in his teachings is unmatched,” he said. “When he works the specific sectionals, he helps us break down our focus into specific things.”
Junior Alyssa Pilecki said she appreciates having Mr. Millen on campus and that he is an awesome teacher because he is always motivating, never discouraging.