Grinnell School of Music Receives $40,000 Gift to Create the Roger & Lisa Henderson Teacher Workspace

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The Claude W. Ahrens Charitable Trust, Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation, and the Michael and Susan Witt Foundation have pledged a combined $40,000 to the Grinnell School of Music to create a teacher workspace in the school’s new building. The workspace will be named in honor of beloved music educators Roger & Lisa Henderson. This significant donation underscores the donor organizations’ commitment to enhancing and enriching the quality of life in Grinnell.

“We are immensely grateful for this transformative gift, which will create a much-needed workspace for teachers,” said Erin Bustin, Executive Director. “With this gift, we can provide instructors with the space, tools, and resources to enable them to deliver top-quality education and performance opportunities, right here in Grinnell.” The space will feature workstations, a meeting and lounge area, and shared equipment and teaching resources.

“The Grinnell School of Music is a significant asset to the community and will serve many generations of students for years to come.  We are thrilled to support this fine institution and honor Roger and Lisa Henderson for their passion for and dedication to teaching music,” said Susan Witt, Trustee of all three foundations; the Claude W. Ahrens Charitable Trust, Claude W. & Dolly Ahrens Foundation and the Michael and Susan Witt Foundation.

Roger Henderson retired in 2021 after 38 years teaching music in Iowa public schools; 31 of which were spent directing choirs, teaching private vocal lessons, and co-directing school musicals at Grinnell High School. Lisa Henderson also retired in 2021 after 37 years of private voice instruction first at Drake University and later at Grinnell College. She also taught courses in diction and vocal pedagogy. Lisa also co-directed several Grinnell Community Theater musical productions, with the most recent being Little Shop of Horrors. Roger is currently working as a Lecturer, Field Placement Coordinator, and Licensure Officer for the Education Department at Grinnell College. He also sits on the boards of the Grinnell School of Music and the Grinnell Newburg School Foundation.

“We are proud to support Grinnell School of Music, and to honor Roger & Lisa Henderson” said Julie Gosselink, president & CEO of the Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation. “Over their combined 60+ years of teaching music in Grinnell, the Hendersons have positively impacted the lives of countless students at Grinnell High School, Grinnell College, and throughout the wider community.”

Roger & Lisa Henderson

The Grinnell School of Music is a vibrant community music school in Grinnell where children and adults access professional music instruction. With an emphasis on participatory, community music-making in addition to excellence in performance, the school provides music education and opportunities for recreational, competitive, and professional musicians alike, equipping students to become lifelong practitioners and performers. The Grinnell School of Music was incorporated in 2022 and took over the activities of its predecessor organization, Studio E, in 2023. Having outgrown its current space at 819 Broad Street, the Grinnell School of Music is renovating a new building, 720 5th Avenue, to expand its capacity and outreach. The Grinnell School of Music is in the midst of a capital campaign to support the purchase and renovation of its new building, project management, and to create a scholarship fund that will ensure equitable access to all of our programs. For more information and to donate to our capital campaign, please visit www.grinnellschoolofmusic.org.

The Grinnell School of Music is a 501(c)(3) designated charitable organization.

The Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation is a unique and innovative family foundation striving to help meet the needs of the Greater Grinnell community through ongoing support services and resources by maintaining and perpetuating an endowment. Its purpose is to provide improved and enhanced quality of life for present and future generations with interest in the areas of parks & recreation, education, and health with its collaborative partners.