Johnathan M. Hamiel is currently a 2024 NAfME Southern Division President-Elect Candidate.
Responses to the election questions
What do you see as the major challenges music education will face during your presidency and in what ways can you transform these into opportunities during your presidency?
During my time serving as president and working on the national committees, I have seen a number of things that I predict will be an issue during my term as southern division president. One major observation is an overall lack of interest in the music education profession. This lack of interest is stemming from a number of situations. It begins in a high school student’s Junior and Senior year, where a young music student chooses to become a music major, and goes to the 3-5 years afterwards when they are teaching in the field. These young people do not feel they are supported and provided the learning opportunities that will fully prepare them to lead their classes. It is time that we have a real candid conversation of what the collegiate professors need from our K-12 music educators to be successful and also what the K-12 music educators feel that they need to be prepared for student teaching in years 1-5. A better plan must be communicated by strengthening the support from age 17-24 of a young music educator’s life. The student teaching model currently used must be revamped to more realistic student teaching experiences. All of these items affect the number of music educators that graduate and are able to come out of college and work immediately in the teaching field. As a K-12 Arts Educator, I constantly see throughout our state and region that school districts have more vacancies available than teachers to fill them. Currently, NAFME has implemented the Music Teacher Profession Initiative, which I feel will greatly assist in this process. With the MTP initiative, we have already identified the problem and now we have to implement the solution. The best way to do this is by putting boots on the ground and traveling from state to state virtually or physically to ensure that all of our MEA know about this program and develop a plan to roll this program out to their membership.
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 NAFME presidency?
A major challenge that we may face in the future is the relevancy of NAFME. As members we all know and understand the importance of our organization. However, we are coming to a time in which our younger music educators, who may not participate in our state sponsored events, will struggle to find the relevancy of our organization. NAFME is a vehicle which needs to be used. Do new members know what NAFME offers? If so, how and where? An instructional series, such as “How to Use NAFME,” would be extremely beneficial to all of our members, particularly our newer members. Whether it is a training video or a regional/division president presenting on how to navigate and travel through our website, or on what kind of resources and tools would be a large asset to the music classroom. In our southern region we have a high need to focus on our rural music educators. We have to make an asserted effort to include our rural music educators and students and provide them with the resources and networks they need to be successful. Several of our rural music educators are the only music educators in their district. Finding a professional learning community to connect with and share strategies and ideas are extremely important. During my term as president, I would identify the areas that are considered rural and create a plan of action to connect them to one another (and to NAFME) to assist them in devising a plan to better educate students in the rural setting. We were able to do the same thing in North Carolina and I have been extremely happy of the progress that our MEA has made in this area.
How do you plan to advance equity/DEIA in NAFME during your term of office?
After the COVID lock down we had to reestablish some specific norms throughout our state. Last year our theme to conference and a message that permeated throughout our state is “Redefining Success.” We have to “redefine” what success may look like in different areas of our music classrooms. We also have to reestablish and redefine what leadership may look like versus what it has previously been in the past. I have a firm belief that representation matters. Students and teachers would be eager to be a member of an organization in which they can see themselves in. I would like to assist the states within our region and beyond who are interested in establishing an equity statement and leadership academies, so that each state has the ability to grow, develop, and establish their own leaders through an equitable lens of leading. I would also like to assist our fellow MEA’s with the implementation of a “Declaration of Intent” (The Declaration of Intent is what NCMEA uses to assure equitable representation permeates throughout the organization’s leadership and Board of Directors). To implement these items, we are going to have to work on establishing new healthier relationships built on trust, understanding and transparency.
When considering matters of equity, it is my firm belief that we as music educators must take the approach of MUSIC FOR ALL. Not only do I thoroughly believe this in theory, but I have lived this throughout several aspects of my life as a music educator, a leader and a human being. My past as a rural minority music student afforded me the opportunities and experiences that not only prepared me to become a leader in my professional career, but also pushed me to provide opportunities to music educators and students throughout the state and nation.
In my professional space, I have constantly broken down the barriers of systematic oppression and built bridges of access so that everyone can participate and be included in this wonderful world we call music education. Equity should be at the center of a person’s individual moral core and is essential to the social and emotional health of our NAFME organization. Equity is crucial to everything that we do as music educators. We have so many different participants from different areas that deserve to be represented. Everyone should have their voices heard and be an active participant of the decision-making process. I have always lived by the philosophy of “how can you love music but not music class?” As educators, daily we interact with several students on our campuses listening to music, but they are not enrolled in our musical classes. Why? Whatever organization we are a part of, we have to make sure that students, leaders, and all participants see themselves in our organization while also being mindful that we are not perpetuating tokenism.
My experience in matters of equity have been extensive and extremely rewarding. On the local level, I have constantly spoken up for our marginalized students, teachers and schools by shining a light on the unfairness and lack of equity of our local all-county and all-district honors ensembles. So much so, that in certain districts teachers are allotted individual chair placement to assure diversity, equity and inclusion is happening at all times. On the state level, I have assisted to create opportunities for our marginalized music educators and students to have a voice during our state MEA conference and on our board of directors. We have implemented yearly equity committee professional development webinars that teach our music educators how to address matters of access and DEI. During my term as state president, I specifically worked on developing positive and heathy relationships with our Historically Black Colleges and Universities in North Carolina. On the national level, I have also served on the NAFME Equity Committee where we established that NAFME was constantly being equitable throughout the daily practices and operations of the organization. This also included being a contributing writer to the current NAFME Strategic Plan on the equity portion of the strategic plan. I have also been a member of the Professional Learning and Partnerships Committee as the equity committee representative. This is where we provide webinars and professional development for the NAFME academy and assist in the overall decision making of the NAFME organization. If elected to the prestigious position of president of the Southern Region, this equity work will be a part of my platform because I believe it is our duty and responsibility to ensure that music is indeed for all; not just in words but also in action.
As a leader, I believe certain characteristics should be present at all times. Today, a leader should possess the skills to articulate their vision to the organization and see the potential strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to that vision, but also be open-minded enough to accept critique and feedback. Leaders should foster a culture of trust, honesty, and collaboration. As a leader, I strive to lead by modeling honesty, empathy and a strong work ethic. As a leader in any musical organization, we must also possess high standards when concerning all aspects of our organization. A leader must also be willing to lead with compassion for our fellow music educators and music students.
We are facing a critical time in our education systems in which teacher attrition is at an all-time high! I recognize the need to meet this moment with a sense of urgency. We need to implement and execute a highly aggressive mentor program to nurture our 1-5-year teachers as they attempt to establish themselves within our profession. Through open communication and a shared vision, I strive to inspire others to achieve collective success while fostering an environment of continuous learning and growth. My leadership can be defined by active listening and a focus on empowering those that lead while being a servant leader to music educators.
During my career as a music educator, I have had the opportunity to lead my peers on several occasions. On the local level, I was the site chair for our local All-County Honors Bands which included communicating with my co-workers and establishing very clear and detailed instructions so that all participants were safe and secure during our honors events. On the state level, I was able to lead the state of North Carolina as president with several initiatives focused on establishing a safe and welcoming environment for all of our music educators and students while also allowing everyone to have a voice. We were able to establish an equity statement for our organization while also updating our “Declaration of Intent” (The Declaration of Intent is what NCMEA uses to assure equitable representation permeates throughout the organization’s leadership and Board of Directors). This might not have been a popular item, but it was extremely important to me, the Board of Directors and the future of music education in North Carolina. We have also included virtual elections so that anyone can vote regardless of conference attendance. During my term as president of NCMEA we established the Equity Committee as a standing committee, so that just like NAFME, equity is the center of everything that we do. We have launched a rural music educators initiative and recently won the CMA Grant to assist our rural music educators with resources and networking opportunities. Lastly, we created the Popular Music Committee that is currently preparing several sessions and performances at our state conference. Our Popular Music Committee will reach those students who are interested in the non-traditional musical ensembles and provide a place for them to learn, compose and perform music on our Piedmont Stage (our stage that anyone can perform on). Although we have more work to do, I am extremely proud of all of these accomplishments. These items come from a vision to see where we are versus where we need to be, and the planning, communicative, and collaborative skills that it will take for this vision to become a reality. As the southern regional president, I would enjoy the opportunity to share my ideas and thoughts throughout out the southern region of the nation.