Judith (Judy) Bush is beginning her twenty-fifth year of teaching and her 12th year as General Music Specialist at Fredstrom Elementary School in Lincoln, Nebraska. Before moving to Nebraska in 2000, Judy taught in Kentucky and Ohio. In addition to teaching general music, she has taught middle level and high school choir, beginning band and high school marching band. Judy earned her BME from Northern Kentucky University and her Orff Certification with Rene Boyer from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, with graduate work at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Glenn Korff School of Music. She has served the Nebraska Music Educators Association for the past twelve years, beginning as Public Relations/Advocacy Chair and is now completing her term as Immediate Past President. She is active in creating professional development opportunities for teachers across the state and is an active teacher leader with Lincoln Public Schools, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Glenn Korff School of Music and the Nebraska Department of Education. Recent projects have included writing new district curriculum for general music, providing professional development focused on new state standards, and creating a Music Education Summit to include Music Education faculty in the discussion of new endorsements and how they relate to the new state standards. Judy and her husband Doug, also a music educator, have been married for 35 years and have three sons and two daughters.
“The challenges I see facing music education are complex and multi-layered. From a national point of view, the most pressing challenge is seeing through the passage of the new ESEA Bill as there will be a huge trickle down effect, and we must help our teachers prepare for it. Another challenge facing us is the adoption of the national arts standards by individual states. Each state has its own unique needs that need to be addressed within those standards whether it is something as simple as following a similar format as other academic subjects, or challenging antiquated ways of thinking about music education reflected in older standards. At the state and local level, I see challenges in terms of teacher shortages. I believe this can be linked to some in power at the national, state or local level, who have a misunderstanding of what it really takes to provide a quality education, including the arts, to students in the 21st century.
NAfME faces the herculean challenge of creating a strategic plan that addresses all of the needs of the organization and its membership and keeps the organization relevant. One challenge for NAfME will be deciding how to inform and provide assistance to individual members and states as they address the writing and implementation of arts standards and model assessments to follow. Providing relevant, affordable professional development through technology and more traditional means is essential for maintaining quality music education for our students and for building and maintaining membership, but we must ensure that it does not bankrupt the organization in the process. Finding a way to work with our young people to encourage those most passionate students to consider pursuing a career in music education will be a challenge, especially as the culture and media continually highlight disrespect for the profession. And finally, the challenge of maintaining a powerful presence at the national level to ensure legislation that benefits both music educator and education will be essential.
NAfME must continue to collaborate with members, state and regional leadership and invested parties (Music Education Policy Roundtable) to question the direction of the organization and make adjustments for the good of the profession. Efforts must continue to educate leaders outside of the profession and the public concerning the benefits of music education and of maintaining quality music educators without increasing their workload and demanding unrealistic accountability. Facilitating hands-on experiences in advocacy efforts for all levels of membership would be a great opportunity for educators to understand how policy and legislation really do affect what they do in their classrooms. Real change happens at a grassroots level, and I believe the practitioner holds the key to many of these questions. Finding a way to reach out to individual members, not waiting for them to reach out to us, to ask for their opinions and really getting a taste of their day to day struggles and triumphs is what will facilitate real change and help NAfME rise to the challenges.”