Newark Central School District was recently designated as one of 527 best communities for music education in the U.S. by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation.
This is the fifth consecutive year NCSD has received the designation. The BCME program recognizes and celebrates schools and districts for their support and commitment to music education.
The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs from the international music products industry.
Now in its 18th year, the BCME program recognizes efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders who work together to ensure access to music learning for all students as part of the school curriculum.
“Music is such an important part of our students’ education here in Newark,” said Cindy Briggs, K-12 music department leader. “Not only are students given the opportunity to participate in high quality performing ensembles, but also are given the opportunity through our general music program to learn everything from musical cultures and how it relates to the world today through music technology. These opportunities exist and support our children in so many other aspects of their education, including social studies, English language arts and other core academic areas. Here in the Newark schools, we are fortunate to have the support of our district administration and board of education, past and present, as well as the support of the community members and fellow colleagues. This support highlights the importance of the arts in our community and is proof of the difference it makes in the lives of our Newark students. We have been fortunate these last five years to be recognized by the NAMM Foundation with this award. As a music staff member in the NCSD, I am very grateful for the recognition and support from our district.”
NCSD received the designation again after the NCSD Music Department completed a detailed questionnaire about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and other factors in the community that affect access to music education for all students.
The Music Research Institute at University of Kansas verifies responses with district officials, and advisory organizations review the data.
Briggs credited Perkins School music teacher Maria Walton with doing majority of the work to prepare the application.
“Maria did all the leg work for this, which is very time consuming,” Briggs said.
The designation takes on added significance this year, with new research showing strong ties between students in grades K-12 who actively participate in school music education programs and overall student success. A recent study of students in the Chicago public schools by brain researchers at Northwestern University, detailed in The Neuroscientist and Education Week, builds on previous findings that participation in music education programs helps improves brain function, discipline and language development.
“Studying music has intrinsic benefits and, on its own, is core to learning,” said Mary Luehrsen, executive director of the NAMM Foundation. “The links between student success and music education have now been demonstrated by brain researchers in multiple studies. The schools and districts our foundation recognizes are building on that connection between music and academics. These schools and districts are models for other educators who see music as a key ingredient in a well-rounded curriculum that makes music available to all children, regardless of zip code. We have been awarding the BCME for 18 years, and it is heartening to see how many parents and community members check to see if their schools have been recognized. Parents are choosing to live where schools are committed to music education offerings that are part of the curriculum.”
Other school districts in Wayne and surrounding counties that received the designation include Brighton Central School District, East Irondequoit Central School District, Greece Central School District, Honeoye Central School District, Honeoye Falls-Lima Central School District, Palmyra-Macedon Central School District, Penfield Central School District, Pittsford Central School District, Rush-Henrietta Central School District, Wayne Central School District, Webster Central School District and West Irondequoit Central School District.
Briggs commended her eight fellow music department staff members: Mary Lou Bonnell, Libby Brozik, Mike Ciranni, Kate Flock, Brooke Hartpence, Robert Humphrey, Rebekah Valerio and Maria Walton.
Bonnell is a general music teacher at Lincoln School who also provides music therapy to grades K-12.
Briggs teaches instrumental music at Kelley School, directs beginning band and continuing band and leads instrumental lessons for grades four and five.
Brozik teaches vocal music at Kelley School, directs fourth- and fifth-grade chorus and teaches general music to grades three through five.
Ciranni teaches TV production, “Music In Our Lives” and audio production at Newark High School and general music at Newark Middle School.
Flock, NHS vocal music teacher, directs mixed chorus, concert choir and vocal jazz. She gives vocal lessons for grades nine through 12 and serves as musical director for NHS musicals.
NMS vocal music teacher Hartpence directs sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade chorus and teaches general music to grades six through eight.
Humphrey directs concert band, wind ensemble and jazz band at NHS. He serves as director of pit band for NHS musicals, and provides instrumental lessons for grades nine through 12.
NMS instrumental music teacher Valerio directs sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade band and jazz band. She teaches instrumental lessons for grades six through eight.
Walton is a general music teacher at Perkins School.
In addition to music instruction provided daily by music staff and many music performances throughout the school year, Briggs highlighted some of the music-related activities connected to the NCSD Music Department.
This includes homecoming; Memorial Day ceremonies; Veterans Day ceremonies; holiday performances at Eastview Mall; performances for adjudication at New York State School Music Association majors; participation in junior and senior high-level ensembles at the Hochstein School of Music and Dance; Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra holiday performances; the Elenbe Awards for the Performing Arts; community parades; Kelley School’s Veterans Day Celebration; Rotary Club performances; NHS and NMS musicals; Lincoln School second-grade holiday performances; Lincoln School field days; Lincoln School Farewell Fridays; “The Young Americans” outreach tour and group workshops; Winter Jazz guest artist performances; Cabaret Night; Chamber of Commerce performances; RPO Holiday Pops Festival Chorus; Rochester International Jazz Festival; Kelley School RPO field trips; Newarkfest/Family Festival performances; representation in All-County, Area All-State, Conference All-State and All-Eastern; local and state sponsored solo festivals; and evaluation of ensembles at the state level.
“Newark Central School District’s receiving NAMM’s Best Communities for Music Education designation for the fifth year in a row is truly is a well deserved honor for everyone in our music department,” Superintendent Matt Cook said. “It is also outstanding, because our talented staff engages hundreds of students, parents and other community members every year who contribute in so many ways to make it a great success.”