Dr. John L. Baker Music Scholarship Fund
Dr. John L. Baker strove to maintain a balance of quality in the school's concert, jazz and marching bands as director of the West High Band Department. The John L. Baker Music Scholars Award was established to support the principles he espoused: excellence in musicianship, leadership and character.
During his 16-year tenure at West (1978-1994), his bands were invited to perform at numerous state, regional and national conferences, including the National Band Association’s National Conference, and twice at the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic. Known for quality sound and excellent musical performance, bands under Baker consistently demonstrated strong character and respect for the other bands with whom they competed.
Baker held a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a master’s degree from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. He earned his Ph.D. in music education from Florida State University. In addition to his years teaching at West, he served as director of bands for two years at Florida State University. At the time of his death in 2001, he was the university's director of symphonic and marching bands, and taught music education and conducting courses at the University of Northern Iowa.
Baker maintained an active profile as guest conductor, adjudicator, professional resource and music education advocate. Among numerous awards for his work, he was twice a recipient of the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic’s Medal of Honor, received the National Band Association’s Citation of Excellence, and was recognized by Phi Beta Mu Music Honorary as Missouri’s Outstanding Band Director. During his years in St. Louis, he regularly performed as a professional trumpet player.
He is remembered for his passion for music, dedication to and belief in his students, high expectations and laughter. Every year since his death colleagues, friends and former students have performed a tribute concert to honor his memory. Donations collected at this annual jazz band concert go to the John Baker Music Scholarship Fund, which supports the John L. Baker Music Scholars Award. The award goes to Parkway band students who are selected as part of the Parkway Alumni Association’s (PAA) Granting Dreams Program.