David M. Brown
Eastern Division President-Elect 2023-2025
Dr. David M. Brown is the Immediate Past President of the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) and the Superintendent of Schools of DeRuyter Central Schools. He just started his 34th year in education. He spent 24 years as a High School Choral Director and Artistic Director of Theatre. He has conducted several Area All-State and All County Honor Ensembles. As the President of NYSSMA he worked with the Commissioner of Education and the State Health Director through the COVID pandemic. When he is not leading music or his school district he lives in Skaneateles New York with his wife Melissa, and their children Sophia and Nicholas. David has a Doctorate in Executive Leadership through the lens of Social Justice from St. John Fisher University. His dissertation was entitled, “Male Participation in Secondary Choral Music.” He also has a Master Degree in Music Education and Performance from Ithaca College, a Bachelor of Science in Music and Theatre from Nazareth College, and studied voice at the Eastman School of Music.
What do you see as the major challenges music education will face during your term and in what ways can you transform these into opportunities during your presidency.
Music Education has needed to surpass many hurdles in its history but right now I believe there are two major challenges facing music education that I will lead the organization through if I am given the privilege of being your President-Elect.
(1) Advocacy has been and will continue to be at the forefront of music education. When I became president of NYSSMA it was my intention to continue the strong advocacy work in New York but advocacy became the driving force of my leadership because of COVID. I worked with the State Health Department, the Governor’s Office, Local and State Legislators, as well as the Commissioner of Education. I have extensive experience advocating for music in our state and look forward to doing even more on the national level (Eastern Division). One of my first initiatives will be to meet with each State President, or their designee, to look at the needs of each state of the Eastern Division.
(2) Access is the second area of concern but is encompassing of all aspects of music education and may I say Education as a whole. Every child is afforded a well-rounded education inclusive of Music and the Arts according to the Federal Law, “Every Student Succeeds Act.” However, every child does not have access to that right. So many miss out on what I believe is the most important part of a child’s education – MUSIC. We need, and I WILL, work tirelessly to get that access to every child. First, we have to create a place where ALL children are welcomed. I worked, as President of NYSSMA to create a framework of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for NY Music. We created a board approved BEDR framework (Belonging, Equity, Diversity, and Representation) and more importantly I required that every committee and decision making process is done through the lens of BEDR. We MUST make these changes if we are truly going to be inclusive, welcoming, and have music accessible to every child!
What do you see as the major challenges the association will face during your term and in what ways can you transform these into opportunities during your presidency.
The major challenges to NAfME are fiscal, political, and cultural. As a Superintendent I deal with these realities on a daily basis. And, as a Rural School Superintendent these are much more prevalent and invasive. I bring my experiences in leadership, and my love for music, to better facilitate growth in NAfME.
I believe NAfME’s fiscal realities, where I know I can assist, is partially tied to membership. Many states saw reductions in membership through the pandemic but NYSSMA continued to provide services to our members and maintained our numbers and this recent year, saw increases. I will lead us by spreading the word of the importance of membership in our professional organization. It will be my platform to provide our members with the WHY you should be a member. We must communicate to our members what is available to them as members of this amazing organization.
The political realties are always in play for music education. Music in Our School’s Month was created by the advocacy that was done in New York State by Past President Joseph R. Sugar over fifty years ago. I will bring the experiences of our work in New York to the National Level to continue and enhance our political advocacy for music education in every school in the Eastern Division area.
Finally, and most important, we have to understand the cultural realities in music education. We must embrace our past, experience our present, and look to the future. As stated earlier (and it cannot be emphasized too much) we must provide access to every child AND every teacher. NAfME is doing incredible work with DEIA and I will bring my experiences from my school district, state, and national committee work with Mackie Spradley. We should never lose who we are in music but also must open our hearts and minds to accept that we are not connecting with every child and teacher and I will not rest until we do everything we can.
How do you plan to advance equity/DEIA in NAfME during your term of office?
As stated in my challenges section, equity/DEIA is an existential issue for music education. We must put this at the forefront of our work. Equity has many definitions including gender, race, special needs, just to name a few. It is important for us to see all aspects of DEIA so we create opportunities for every child and every educator and more importantly, that we open our doors to everyone.
To close, as President-Elect, President, and Past President, I will work on many needs including:
- Collaboration with Higher Education
- Student Voice including work with Tri-M