What have you learned about the resources (both monetary and non-monetary) needed to be successful in implementing your project?
One of the greatest successes of our first year in the Studio to School project is that we have been able to hone in on the Elkton School and community to a degree that would be nearly impossible for us to achieve with our AmeriCorps sites. This closer focus has, in turn, given us a better picture of what needs to happen in order for our project to be successful in the long term
In year 1, we have learned that, while the OCF grant has allowed Andrew and I to focus more closely on Elkton, there is still need for more direct support. Since Andrew spends the majority of his time functioning as a full-time teacher, it is difficult for him to find out-of-class time to organize workshops and conduct outreach work. As a result, we have begun exploring ways of expanding Ethos’ role in the project by incorporating our AmeriCorps members and in-house teachers.
We’ve also learned, in a somewhat similar fashion, that the Elkton community is perhaps our most valuable resource. As we move forward with the project, we will inevitably explore new ways of generating excitement and interest around music in both the school and the larger community. The main obstacle in tapping this resource is developing reliable methods for gauging support-for and satisfaction-with the new programs and initiatives that we introduce. I am hopeful that the related work taking place within the OCF learning community will assist us as we look to build and apply these systems to measure our progress in the coming year.
What were the most impactful ways you used your OCF grant funding in year 1?
Perhaps the most impactful use of our funding has been enabling Andrew to take on new roles within the Elkton School and providing him with the materials and support to both set and achieve new goals for his classes and groups. OCF funding allowed us to send a higher number of instruments and supplies to Elkton and allowed me to take a more active role in the workings of the music program. In addition, it gave Andrew the freedom to explore new avenues for engaging his students, whether it was expanding the repertoire for his band groups or bringing performers to the school to generate interest in a percussion curriculum. These successes have enabled us to think more proactively about how we can use our resources to galvanize student and community interest in the music program. In short, OCF funding has given us an opportunity to explore new possibilities in our programming while also providing us with a space to analyze and discuss these changes with a focus and specificity that we had previously been unable to achieve.
How might you apply what you’ve learned in using your funding in year 2?
Ethos as an organization is very capable of addressing the need for additional support that I touched on in the first section. There has been a marked increase in interest around the Elkton program from both Ethos in-house teachers and Rural Outreach Project AmeriCorps members (two of whom are volunteering at Andrew’s summer band camp). Next year, we plan to increase the involvement of in-house teachers and AmeriCorps members from the Ethos end. We hope that this will allow us to maintain the high standard of class work that Andrew has set in year 1 while expanding our efforts to generate excitement and activity around music in the community. By engaging Ethos’ own artists and educators in the project, I believe we can truly flesh out our role as a “Studio” partner and create relationships with the community that will aid in our efforts towards sustainability.
If your anticipated budget is changing for year 2 – how do you think that change might result in different work for your team?
Written by Sei Harris