1.    What did you see and do during your visit?  Who was included (describe participants from both projects)?

 The Sunriver/La Pine visitors included Michael Chavarin – music teacher, Stefanie Bright – parent/community representative, and Gayle Vidal – project manager.

 Lincoln City hosts included Christine Tell – Board Chair, Siletz Bay Music Festival, Mike Freel and Andy Hordichok– music teachers, Betsy Wilcox – principal/district curriculum director, Nick Lupo – principal, Taft Middle School, Majalise Tolan – principal, Taft High School, and Niki Price – Executive Director, Lincoln City Cultural Center.

On Monday we watched Mike teach his second grade music class at OceanLake School and learned from Betsy Wilcox how the “Music is Instrumental” project is being integrated into school and district planning.  Over dinner with Christine at Salishan we learned more about the Lincoln City area and the background and scope of their project

Tuesday morning at Taft HS we watched Andy and Mike teach 6th grade band classes, recently divided into advanced and beginner groups.  After a tour of the remodeled Taft HS Commons, which had been transformed into a large stage with theater lights and a state of the art sound room, we learned about the after school drama program created by a partnership between a local theater group and the school.  

Nick reviewed 6th grade Star Reading and Math first year and current year student scores demonstrating greater gains for student enrolled in band.  Test score discrepancies between band and non-band students the first year led their team to commit to mandating band for all 6th grade students.

Leaving Taft HS, we toured the Lincoln City Cultural Center where Niki described local cultural groups and resources.  Over lunch with Christine and Niki we discussed ongoing outreach activities, including plans to support regular classroom teacher arts proposals, plans for bringing visiting artists to the schools, and results from a community survey sampling awareness and beliefs about the project.

2.   What were you hoping to learn during your visit?  Did you learn what you were hoping to learn?  Did you learn anything you didn’t expect to learn?

Prior to the visitation the Sunriver/La Pine team planned to observe how the Siletz project integrated and managed studio activities into school routines, provided staff development, created and used program evaluation, and involved community in supporting their project.

We learned a lot during our visit, including the following:

School project integration and management and program evaluation – Elementary, middle and high school staff work together as a strong team.  Using data, all principals agreed to make schedule changes and commit to building support with parents and community for their decision to create a universal band experience for all 6th graders.  The emphasis on band has been completely integrated into school management routines at every level.

Professional development – After hiring Mike, a professional musician and new music teacher, the administrative team supported their two music instructors’ attendance at a music conference where they bonded as colleagues and planned methods and materials needed for the success of their elementary/middle school music programs. 

The quality of music education and the engagement of students in both the second grade elementary program and the 6th grade band program was excellent.  Both teachers were skilled and focused on expecting steady musical progress from all students at all levels.  The emphasis on using professional development and concentration of resources to support staff planning has helped to integrate program goals across grade levels and to support sustainable positive student impact.

 Community engagement – A successful partnership exists between a community drama group and the schools that provides both students and community members the opportunity to work together in upgraded school facilities to produce a musical (this year, Fiddler on the Roof).

The Siletz team named their project “Music is Instrumental” and distributed information about it to the community by creating informational cards, posters and doing presentations to and surveys of community groups and individuals.  Future outreach to the community will be guided by the information gathered.

3.    What stood out to you from your visit?  Did anything in particular either resonate or surprise you?

We were impressed by how well school administrators and staff worked together to use the project to ensure the success and wellbeing of their students.  They meet monthly to review data and to make changes and adjustments to their programs.  They focus on using music education as a change agent to promote overall student success.

Although they are working with community groups to provide a drama program and working with teachers about ways to enrich awareness of the arts in each teacher’s classroom, their central emphasis so far appears to be providing high quality elementary music and 6th grade band program instruction. The bulk of their grant resources have been expended on buying instruments and music supplies, recruiting community volunteers and assigning EA support to assist students and monitor attendance and behavior data during band class, and on creating a high quality performance area in the high school commons.  That emphasis on music education is reflected in their program name, “Music is Instrumental.” 

This team’s progress on gathering, using and making decisions based on data is very impressive.  A next step for them will be to use data gathered from their Survey Monkey community survey to further develop community outreach.

 4.    What ideas or considerations are you bringing home to your own project?  Is there anything you can apply, or that you might co differently as a result of your peer visit?

School Leadership Cohesion / Narrower, Deeper Focus

The Sunriver/La Pine team, like Siletz, has maintained its primary purpose – to restore band at the middle school.  Though we have, so far, been unable to hire an additional teacher, our project teacher, Michael, continues to teach band during his prep period.  This year both beginning and advancing students are in band at LPMS.  However, we also providing a variety of other performing arts experiences to help more students expand their understanding and appreciation of the arts.  Our team discussed whether it is best to continue this broader focus or to begin to focus deeper on one particular area.  We agree that, at least for the coming year, it will benefit our students the most to continue these additional offerings.

 The Siletz group used Star academic results and other data to make a deep commitment to beginning band for all.  Their agreement on the importance of band instruction motivated all school administrators to work together to adjust schedules in all schools, hire an additional staff member and purchase needed resources.  These changes are now embedded into their school structure and management.  Their administrative team is continuing to monitor data to assess the degree to which focused music instruction is positively impacting students.

By reaching out and supporting elementary and high school program extensions, we believe we are deepening a similar cohesive focus at LPMS and among all La Pine administrators and school staff, K-12.

Evaluation

Our Sunriver/La Pine team intends to put more emphasis on gathering specific data to assess the effectiveness of our studio programs.  We will use that data to make adjustments to existing programs, plan future direction, and build advocacy for the role of the arts among key advocates  (school staff, district administrators, parents and school board members) to support student educational growth.

Initial evaluation goals reflect a belief that students included in performing arts activities would demonstrate improved attendance and higher grades.  So far qualitative data is promising but additional attendance and grade point data is yet to be gathered and analyzed.

Continue Community Partnerships

The Lincoln City schools are partnering with two community groups, each of which brings complementary strengths.  Both community group directors are active members of their project management team.

Our project lead, Pam Beezley, is the executive director of the Sunriver Music Festival, an organization with broad and deep roots in the South Deschutes County communities.  Through those connections and with school staff support, project leaders have established positive and successful partnerships with Kelly Breen of Dance Elite in La Pine, Art Central in Bend, and others.  Our plan is to build on these relationships and continue to establish others.  Currently team leaders are working with the Mayor of the City of La Pine as he lays the groundwork for an Arts and Tourism Commission to connect the civic work with the work in progress in La Pine schools.