As we round the last curve in our first lap of our Lincoln City Studio to School project, we have spent time assessing what worked, and what did not, and what will be adjusted in the 2015-16 school year. Responding to these prompts are Christine Tell, project leader, and Lindsay Fuson, the K-6 music teacher, compiled by Niki Price, evaluation liaison.
What have you learned about the resources (both monetary and non-monetary) needed to be successful in implementing your project?
Christine: We have learned that it is critically important to supplement rather than supplant the resources that the schools and districts provide in order to make goals achievable and sustainable. In our case, the district had committed to one new full-time music teaching position for grades K-6. (The structure of our schools are two elementary K-6 and one Middle/High – Taft 7-12). Due to the configuration of the grades, we were able to begin in this first year to “build a ramp” of music literacy particularly through grades 3-6. The existing band teacher position at Taft 7-12 with Andy Hordichok allowed us to reintroduce the 6th grade band for both elementary schools and locate it at Taft 7-12. The 6th grade band program (now meets daily) as well as the K-6 program (meets 3x a week) had been absent from the schools for more than 10 years. Because of this long absence of music in the schools there were only a small handful of students having any experience with music literacy. By supplementing with instruments, music, related supplies and classroom assistance we were able to achieve our goal to successfully launch these programs.
What were the most impactful ways that you used your OCF grant funding in year 1?
Christine: The impact of the OCF funding on launching new programs at all 3 schools simultaneously was profound. We had great impact I believe because we were guided in our decisions by the management team we established with our building principals and music teachers. Our first critical decision was to recognize the nature of the majority of our population of children and families who belong to our community. We began in this first year to build a “bank” of instruments so that students would not be blocked from participation in music programs because of lack of family funds for rental. We have 65 students who have persisted in 6th grade band. Our second critical decision was to engage all students in outreach programs at every grade level so that they would experience the richness of music and how it can educate as well as entertain. Our third critical decision was to engage the community in the establishment and expansion of music in the schools. Our K-6 teacher Lindsay Fuson is incredibly talented and with support from OCF funding ensures that every student gains a foundation in music literacy. Families packed the elementary school cafeterias/auditoriums for performances to witness their students singing, reciting and playing music on conventional instruments and unusual objects. Our final critical decision was to contribute to the transformation of Taft 7-12 cafeteria into a performance venue with the addition of sound and lighting equipment. The unanticipated outcome was that following the debut of modest improvements to the venue at packed winter music performances, offers of volunteer help began to pour in. A local hardware store staff contributed weekend time to paint the stage a matte black. Many parents contributed time to help with students during music rehearsals and performances. Our Taft 7-12 music teacher Andy Hordichok inspires his students and community members and his request for community members time and talents more than made up for what could not be funded otherwise. Finally, the community is inspired by the success of our Taft 7-12 HS students in various state competitions in which they have not previously placed!
Lindsay: In the elementary schools, I’ve found that the sets and props were the most fun purchases and had the most immediate impact on the students. The students, parents and teachers alike are amazed by the amount of materials that have been purchased for the sole use of a performance. Students love the costumes and the set pieces and it gets them excited to perform. It changes the attitude and energy in the room from rehearsing lines page by page to the characters and stage coming to life! The instruments, however, were the most valuable purchases made this year. They will be used extensively next year and the years to come. They are high quality instruments and can be used for just about any grade level. Students had the opportunity for a very hands-on music experience and for some of them, it was their first music experience ever. This gave students a chance to see that music was highly accessible to them and they thrived during their first year.
How might you apply what you’ve learned in using your funding resources in year 2?
Christine: We were naive to think that we could launch music programs at K-6 and 7-12 simultaneously after an absence of 10 years AND also transform classroom instruction at all levels to incorporate music and common core standards. In year 2, we will be able to approach classroom integration more systematically and formally. During year 1, our teacher’s work with music and the common core have emerged more organically through our music teachers’ efforts and the natural flow of activity from music class out to the content area classrooms. For example, while students were learning instruments of the orchestra from Lindsay Fuson via music and non-fiction reading materials, our classroom teachers used a reading/music composition, “Noisy Intermission” to introduce students to the orchestra via this fiction piece. A local illustrator, Krista Eddy, worked with the same students to introduce story boards and the process of writing and illustrating a narrative. At Taft 7-12, students in art and science produced a topographical structure of Cascade Head that was then used to create a painting that simulated the flow of water down this landscape. While students created the painting, musicians performed nature-themed chamber music. Students from film class captured the experience!
Lindsay: Next year, I’d like to see more instruments purchased that could be used in the long run. I know there will be money set aside for use of performances and sets and costumes should be purchased, but it is the number of instruments that I’d like to see increase. In the coming years, music will be available to students at Taft Elementary School and Oceanlake Elementary school and the students and music teachers will need two sets of instruments to use at both schools at one time. I’d like to see the increase of instruments happen as soon as possible so that the schools aren’t in a bind when the time comes that we will need two sets of instruments.
If your anticipated budget is changing for year 2 – how do you think that change might result in different work for your team?
Christine: A big change for us in year 2, will be the reconfiguration of our schools from K-6 and 7-12 to one elementary school of K-2 and the other elementary school of 3-6. This means that we will be able to work directly with teams of teachers at 3-6, 7-8 and 9-12 during common prep periods!