Recently MENC received a check for $355, a donation to FAME (Fund for the Advancement Of Music Education) from Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Forest, Virginia. Kevin Smith, one of the school’s two music teachers, later shed light on the donation.
“Every year for Music In Our Schools Month® we try to do some engaging and educational activities to raise awareness for music education. This year we decided to sell guitar pick necklaces as a fundraiser for FAME. The students really enjoyed the opportunity to purchase something cool with the knowledge that they would be supporting a great organization. The necklaces sold out almost instantly.”
Smith added that the advocacy took on added importance this year, “because we were not even sure if the elementary music teachers in our county would keep their jobs because of the economy. So it struck home how important it was to send money to an organization that supports music education in our school. Not only did the students help raise money, but the faculty and staff in our school were given the opportunity to wear jeans for a whole week for a $5 or more donation to FAME.
“Many members of our staff gave more than the minimum, which goes to show that music education is important and appreciated. The students and staff at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School really love their music, and we thank MENC so much for the work they do on a daily basis to make music education real to so many people. Thank you!”
Smith noted that the fight to keep music at Thomas Jefferson was successful. “Music will continue at our school for the time being. Several of us went before the school board when they were discussing next year’s budget and the superintendent’s idea to cut several elementary music and art positions.
“Thanks to our perseverance, support from the community, and the federal stimulus money, the board decided not to cut any elementary music and art positions. Everything is not ideal, but we are holding strong. There will be some restructuring to make up for the teachers retiring since no new hiring will be done, but at least no one is getting fired outright.” Which is fortunate for the large school.
Smith said, “I have been teaching here since 2005. I began teaching right after I graduated from Liberty University [in Lynchburg, Virginia]. There are actually two music teachers at our school: I am at the school 5 days a week and Lindsay Schallmo (this is her first year teaching) is at TJES 3 days a week and another school 2 days a week. We have this setup because our school is so large. We have approximately 650 students in grades Pre-K through 5.”
650 students who still have music classes.
—Roz Fehr, May 27, 2009. © MENC: The National Association for Music Education