Last month, U.S. Representative David Young (R-IA-3) visited Ashland Ridge Elementary in Ankeny, Iowa to learn about the music programs offered at Ankeny Community Schools. Young was invited this past summer by Kris Versteegt, President of the Iowa Music Educators Association (IMEA), when she met the Congressman during NAfME’s National Assembly – Hill Day.
“I think it was important for Congressman Young to visit my classroom because without having first-hand knowledge regarding the educational experiences Iowa children are having, it can be very difficult for people in positions of influence to make informed decisions,” stated Versteegt.
During his visit, Representative Young participated in singing exercises with the students and played games with the students, including one called “Squirrel in the Tree.” This is a prime example of the power of an invitation; as an advocate, never underestimate the simplicity of one!
Representative Young “showed my students that arts are of national importance, and opened a dialogue about how music in our schools should be protected.”
“The congressman’s visit was absolutely inspiring. He sang, danced, and played with us. He spoke about how much music had meant to him as a student and continues to mean to him as an adult,” said Versteegt. “Moreover, he showed my students that arts are of national importance, and opened a dialogue about how music in our schools should be protected.”
Young was first elected into Congress this past January 2015. Prior to be elected, he served as Chief of Staff to Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning. We at the National Association for Music Education give the highest praise to Rep. Young for making a trip to the music classroom. By prioritizing music education in our academic system, we help ensure our students’ future success.
Versteegt is the K-5 General Music Teacher for Ankeny Community Schools. She holds a mastery certificate in the Kodaly approach to music literacy and national certification in Orff Schulwerk. She received a Bachelor of Music degree from Iowa State University and a Master of Science in Education: Teacher Effectiveness and Professional Development degree from Drake University. Kris is also the founder and charter president of the Kodaly Educators of Iowa (KEI), an affiliate chapter of the Organization of American Kodaly Educators. She was elected to serve as the president-elect for the Iowa Music Educators Association in November 2012, and assumed office as IMEA president in December 2014.
Ronny Lau, Legislative Policy Advisor, Center for Advocacy, Policy, and Constituency Engagement, November 6, 2015. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org).