Education

Music Can Help Bring The Grades Up

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.

Spencer Caldwell Spencer Caldwell

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 […]

By | February 28th, 2014|Education, From the Staff, Teacher|0 Comments

School Violence and What Constitutes a Safe School?

Students report that clear plastic backpacks, metal detectors and armed guards in school do not make them feel safer.  They feel like prisoners in their own school.  So what does it mean to feel safe in school?  It is easier to say what makes school feel unsafe:   physical abuse and violence, verbal taunting, ridicule, threats, spreading rumors, and humiliation, all of which can now take place more publicly and to a much wider degree, thanks to modern technology.  Cell phones, texting, YouTube and Facebook now allow us to torment each other instantly worldwide.   Most students have been both perpetrator and victim to some degree of these behaviors in the course of their school careers.  So we all are capable of making someone else miserable and know what it feels like to have it done to us.  When students don’t feel safe in the school environment, classroom, lunch room, playground, corridors, restrooms, stairwells, after school waiting for the bus or on the public transportation home, they can’t fully engage in learning.  They are either preoccupied with an earlier incident or thinking about how to avoid a future perceived torment.

Most adults believe that the older the students are the less they need (or want) adult help.  It isn’t true. Even adults have difficulty dealing with bullying and intimidating behavior. Just look at our U.S. Congress.  The older we get the more serious the intimidation can become.  Dealing with bullying in school at every grade level requires adult (particularly parents and teachers) involvement.

How can elementary school children deal with the playground bully?  What happens when children fight back?  Or tell an adult what’s going on?  What happens when they don’t?

My wisdom about the answers to these questions comes […]

By | January 8th, 2014|Bullying, Education, Safety|0 Comments