Alumni Showcase: Kelly Jacobsma ‘89

Feb 12, 2021 • Alumni, Alumni Showcase

Morningside Alumnus Kelly Jacobsma recently received the 2020 Karl King Distinguished Service Award. This annual award is presented to a northwest Iowa band director selected by their peers for “distinguished service to the advancement of Instrumental music education”.


This is not the only award the Sibley-Ocheyedan Middle School band director has received. In 2019, Jacobsma received the Jay Wicker Excellence in Education award, which is also a peer-selected annual award presented to a distinguished instrumental director specifically in a middle school. As an added fun fact, that award is actually named after a Morningside alumnus.


It is no surprise to the people who know Jacobsma that he would receive such recognition. Since graduating in 1989 from Morningside College with his Bachelor of Music Education degree, he has continuously proven his dedication to the musical direction of youth. 


His current position is located in his hometown of Sibley, Iowa, as the middle school band director where he directs 5th-8th grade marching band, jazz band, and concert band. He is also the assistant high school marching band director, assisting with all the aspects of the high school marching band show. On top of these directing positions, he is the curriculum team leader for fine arts and secretary and chief negotiator for the Sibley-Ocheyedan Education Association.


Past positions Jacobsma has held include 5th-12th band director at Gilmore City-Bradgate Schools and Harris-Lake Park Schools, high school band director at Sibley-Ocheyedan, West Lyon, and Sioux Falls Roosevelt High School, staff member of the Iowa Ambassadors of Music, chair of the fine arts department at Sioux Falls Roosevelt High School, and President of the Northwest Iowa Bandmasters Association and the Sibley-Ocheyedan Education Association.


As a band director, Jacobsma says “it is a lot of hard work with many hours spent at school and weekends at festivals and competitions”. Their season never officially ends, just switches from “one ensemble and festival to the next”. Despite the long hours, Jacobsma is fully dedicated to the improvement of his band. His passion for teaching is driven by the ability to “take a student from beginner to an accomplished musician in a short time”. 


Under his direction, bands have received numerous awards for their accomplishments, including Grand Champion trophies in concert and marching band at Disney Magic Music Days. At Sibley-Ocheyedan, his 7th and 8th grade concert band has received consecutive division I ratings and seven consecutive 1+ ratings in the last seven years at the MV-AO Concert Band Contest in Anthon.


Jacobsma grew up in a family who was “very involved in music”, so his passion began at an early age. At Morningside, this passion was cultivated through professors such as Dr. Louis Rossman, with whom he remains in contact.


On top of meeting professors and life-long mentors he continues to stay in touch with, Jacobsma also met some of his most important friends at Morningside – including his wife, Rochelle. The two have been married for 30 years and have two children, Ben and Hannah, who are both college students majoring in music.


Kelly Jacobsma’s advice to Morningside students is this: “Work hard to learn as much as you can and say yes to every opportunity you can. The more you can be involved, the more fun you will have ,and you will be able to use [the experiences] later in your career.”