Music Super Grant
In October of 2009, the 112 Education Foundation approved a music super grant of $40,150. This followed a comprehensive music curriculum review by NSSD112. While the findings indicated a strong music program in many areas, a thorough instrument inventory showed a lack of quality equipment and significant inequities of such quality equipment between schools.
The grant approved by the Foundation focused on four goals:
To greatly upgrade the pre-school musical experiences by purchasing both age-appropriate instruments and special needs instruments.
To purchase risers, headphones and keyboards for the 6th-8th grade general music teachers.
To purchase iPods for all pre-K through 5th grade general music teachers in order to hold the vast array of songs that were needed for instruction.
To complete the wish list of instruments requested by instrumental teachers in order to achieve true continuity and equal opportunity across the district.
The grant has had a positive impact in each of the four areas. At the pre-school, students experience instant gratification through the purchase of the new instruments; there are now enough instruments so that everyone plays at all times. Students feel confident thanks to age-appropriate and adaptive instruments. Students at all 3 middle schools have benefited from the purchase of headphones. At Elm Place, the purchase of risers has improved safety for the growing number of choral students. At Northwood, additional keyboards and percussion instruments have helped even up the number of instruments at the 3 middle schools. Music teachers are using iPods daily in their classrooms and are able to take advantage of additional resources through the iPod.
The purchase of more than $28,000 of additional instruments has had a profound impact on all schools. At Wayne Thomas and Oak Terrace, new instruments have allowed every child that wants to participate in orchestra or band to do so. In 2010, the number of instruments rented for low-income students at these two schools dropped from 32 to 5, a savings of approximately $2,400. At Red Oak, Braeside, Lincoln and Ravinia, new instruments have “helped students learn more effectively and quickly,” according to Elizabeth Duke, Orchestra teacher. In addition, the purchase of ¼ size basses has helped dramatically increase the bass participation at the elementary level. Mollie McDougall, Band and Orchestra teacher, commented that, “Students have more opportunities to play the more specialized instruments such as baritone saxophone and French horn and are all able to hear and play in a more balanced ensemble. Students are now using instruments that are working well and do not inhibit their ability to be successful (we had some instruments that were so old and in such bad shape they were hard for students to learn on). A number of these instruments are used as scholarship instruments for students who would not be able to afford to rent an instrument which helps us as educators reach out to all students in our district and give every student the opportunity to play and learn together. Our programs have greatly benefitted from these instrumental additions!”