Does music matter in schools?
Many students can’t even take a music class in school anymore, but for the ones that can and do, it matters a great deal.
Recently we had the chance to interview Spencer Caldwell, this year’s Teacher of the Year for Cajon Valley Union School District, a band and choral teacher at Hillsdale Middle School for the last 17 years. Caldwell was also Teacher of the Year in 1996 and 2005. Clearly he is doing something right!
One of the many ways Caldwell has made a difference for students is by founding a nonprofit parent organization called Hillsdale Music Department Parent Association, to help raise money to support his music program, as well as the district’s five feeder elementary schools’ programs. They raise about $30,000 annually, which makes it possible for students to have music education and performance experiences that extend beyond the basic classroom curriculum, providing instruments and concert attire at no cost to students experiencing financial hardship, providing funding for an assistant band director, piano accompaniment and individual instrumental coaches, supplemental choral instruction, and more. Some of the parents involved have kids who graduated from the program 5-6 years ago, but they have stayed on the board because of their dedication to the cause.
When it comes to implementing the new Common Core standards this year, Caldwell feels like he doesn’t have to change much, because he already uses many of the strategies they espouse, and his students are all very engaged. Also, when they tracked SAT scores, they found that kids who took music classes were ahead of the rest by an average of 60+ points. However, he […]