2023-2025 Eastern Division President-Elect Candidate
Tina Bennett is originally from the Erie County area, where she attended Fort LeBoeuf High School. She was very involved in the music and drama departments, which lead her to Clarion University to earn a Bachelors Degree in Music Education. Immediately following graduation she was hired by the Clarion-Limestone School district and has remained at that district throughout her entire career, acting as department chair for the last 18 years. Working in a small district has given her the opportunity to teach music to students of all ages. She has taught junior/senior high Choir, Elementary Choir, General Music for grades 5–10, Marching Band, Modern Band, Piano and Guitar class, and Introduction to Theater. She has also been a Majorette Advisor and Dance Team coach, as well as Drama Director and Musical Director. Ms. Bennett has been married for 36 years, is a mother to three busy adult children, and “Grammy” to three even busier grandchildren.
Ms. Bennett has been a member of Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) since 1983. During that time she has been involved in many councils and has sat on the District 3 Executive Board. She has held the following PMEA District 3 positions: Curriculum Instruction and Professional Development Chair, MIOSM® Chair, Junior High Choral Chair, as well as District 3 president. Ms. Bennet has been a member of the PMEA State Board for more than 10 years, and State Conference site host. She was elected PMEA State President in 2018 where she held the office until the end of her term in the summer of 2020.
What do you see as the major challenges facing music education during your term as president?
Music education, as we have known it, is changing. I believe that the challenge facing our profession will be to transform how we teach our curriculum. We music educators may need to look at the National Standards in regards to recent events, to advocate for some adjustments to those standards. Additionally, School districts utilizing online teaching will need music education associations to help design how curricula may look in the ensemble classroom for scope and sequence. I truly believe that we are heading toward a “Renaissance” in music education. We as leaders will need to be creative and ready to assist with musical diversity, insight, and attention to rigor, as we help with this evolution.
What do you see as the major challenges facing NAfME?
The challenges facing the next Eastern Division President and our national association will be many. As we all slowly pivot from pandemic teaching practices to more traditional models, I fear that there may be several music programs lost in the shuffle. I can see a nationwide need for advocacy that is more urgent than ever before. We must help the states and local associations with a greater push toward bringing back those lost programs. This will include needed funding, instruments, as well as instructors. I am also concerned about the incoming young educators who have lost valuable in-person student teaching experience. This combined with many senior teachers moving toward retirement could cause a serious gap in music education.
How should our Association respond to these challenges?
I strongly feel that NAfME will need to create opportunities to bring recent college graduates together with veteran teachers. If done nationally, the new teachers who may be relocating would have a bank of mentors to draw from. NAfME will need to promote the profession itself. I see this issue as a borderline crisis. NAfME could share the stories of professional musicians, retired teachers, as well as young passionate educators, who got their start in an MEA. Creating a Public Service Announcement (PSA) to encourage future college students considering a career in music education could be very effective. The need is great for good quality, creative, and empathic new music educators who will help rebuild what COVID took away. Using the National Ensemble Setting is the perfect place to promote our profession. These are the individuals we want to be our future educators.
I am honored to be running for Eastern Division President. NAfME, as well as the country, is changing rapidly. I realize that the road ahead is very uncertain for many of us, and I am excited by the possibilities and challenges that lie ahead. I aspire to be an integral part of this transformation. Our association is strong, and together we will weather this COVID storm. Let us look to the future with hope that our students’ lives may be filled with amazing, unifying musical opportunities for everyone.