Written by Jeff Fuller, Principal of ASMS with support from our awesome team!
When you think about how you will sustain your project (or its most essential components), what are your greatest strengths or assets? How can you leverage those strengths or assets going forward?
Consistent coaches: We have been lucky to have some consistency among our teaching artists during the last three years. Relationships have been developed between school staff and these artists and they have returned after working with middle school students year after year! That is a miracle in itself! We believe that our teaching artists coming and providing individual and small group instrument instruction to our students to be the most essential component of our project that has had the greatest results and impact. We hope this consistency will lead to teaching artists that want to stay with our program and continue their work in our building.
Supportive and consistent school leadership and classroom teacher: We have been one of the lucky ones to have the same classroom teacher and administrator supporting this project for the last three years. This benefits us in that we have a collective vision for what the project is and where we need to continue to tweak things and make changes to improve. If this is able to continue, the support, drive, and initiative to do this work will also continue.
Instruments: One of the greatest supports from this grant has been the opportunity to purchase enough instruments for our burgeoning music program. These instruments will hopefully be enough to sustain the program for many, many years.
Supportive Arts Organization: We are lucky to be able to work with The Shedd Institute who is incredibly supportive of our students and school. They are excellent thought partners and are willing to step outside the box in an effort to try to bring the arts to more of our community. We will continue to rely on our partnership to provide opportunities for our families and teaching artists to our school.
When you think about how you will sustain your work (or its most essential components), what are your greatest challenges? How might you work to overcome those challenges?
Funding: Our greatest challenge will be finding the resources to continue to fund the teaching artists in our building. We will continue to search for “general fund” resources to support this work, which we believe is the right work for kids. We will also rely a bit on our local education foundation, volunteers, and partnerships to continue to make it possible. This will be quite a bit of work and will most likely not be on the solid footing that we would prefer.
New teacher or administrator: We are concerned that there will come a time when we will have a new classroom teacher (Dana is just a year or two from retirement) and / or a new administrator in our building. Since much of the vision for this program rests upon the two of us, it is difficult to see what that transition looks like. We are hoping for a staggered exit, where at least one of us will be left behind to share the vision with the new staff member. We also know that we have involved many other staff members in this work and there would be some ability to rely on them for the future.
Everything besides Teaching Artists: There have been a lot of additional benefits for our school community besides the teaching artists that are working with our band and orchestra students each week. We would most likely be unable to continue to fund opportunities for our families to go to arts programs at the Shedd for free, take summer lessons, afterschool programs, bring in several performances a year, etc. without this additional funding. We will continue to work with the Shedd to discover additional ways that this is possible.
We look forward to solving these challenges!!