Wednesday Usher’s Nancy Lackey Community Education Fund and national music education nonprofit Music Will announced a partnership to launch Music Will’s “highly inclusive, culturally relevant, and innovative music education programs” in 20 new Hamilton County Schools.
“More than 3,500 students will benefit from the unique curriculum and instrument donation, including guitars, drums, keyboards, drum sets and more,” officials said.
The group announced the awarding of the music programs at Brainerd High School.
Schools and teachers selected to receive the instruments and training for the Music Will program include Dustin Dotzler, Wallace A. Smith Elementary; Callie Kilbourne, Wolftever Creek Elementary; Kaela Miller, Hunter Middle School; and Michael Howard, Ooltewah Middle School in the Harrison Bay Learning Community. Tammy Fisher, Spring Creek Elementary; Roxanna Edwards, Tyner Academy; and Pamela S. Watson, East Hamilton School in the Missionary Ridge Learning Community. James McClary, Allen Elementary; Jeff McKnight, Middle Valley Elementary; Stefan Logue, Soddy Daisy Middle; and Sara Daniels, Hixson Middle in the North River Learning Community. Sarah Tortora, Hardy Elementary; Brandon Middlebrooks, Calvin Donaldson Elementary; Jacob Burgess, Orchard Knob Elementary; Tracey Frazier, Brainerd High; and Jerome Souther, Woodmore Elementary in the Opportunity Zone Learning Community. Amy Smith, Alpine Crest Elementary; Kaylee Stowers, Red Bank High; and Erin McKee, Normal Park Upper were selected in the Rock Point Learning Community.
Usher was not able to be with the group for the announcement, but sent a message to the selected schools.
“I’m so very happy to be working with Hamilton County Public Schools in Chattanooga to launch Music Will music programs in 20 public schools and to place these musical instruments and instruction in the hands of thousands of additional kids in Tennessee,” Usher said. “As a child, music changed my life. It gave me a creative outlet, a new language to use to communicate and it continued to be a driving force in everything that I did, do and will do. I’m very excited to pay it forward.”
“Music Will transforms lives by restoring, expanding and innovating music education in schools. Using genres, including rock, pop, Latin and rap, the Music Will program empowers teachers to build music programs as diverse as the kids they serve,” officials said. “Students see themselves reflected in their classes, which strengthens their connection to their school, their peers and their community. Music Will also donates necessary instruments and curriculum, meeting a key need of many school music programs. The world of music expands through innovation. Music Will ensures that music education does as well. More than 500,000 kids currently participate in Music Will programs nationwide.”
“We have always admired Usher, his tremendous talent and his passion for bringing music and arts education to so many deserving kids here in Chattanooga and across the country,” said David Wish, CEO of Music Will. “Being able to partner with him to bring music education and instruments to so many deserving students in the Chattanooga area is truly a dream partnership.”
The school representatives were presented with a special Music Will shirt and examples of the instruments schools would receive were also available at the event for the teachers and school administrators to play around with after the announcement.
“When we teach in a way that kids want to learn, they want to learn more,” said Jill Levine, chief of Innovation and Choice for Hamilton County Schools. “If we want kids to show up for school, we want attendance to improve and we want achievement to improve, then it is necessary to meet kids where they are and involve their interests in the learning process.”
Thirty-seven teachers applied for the Music Will program across the district. The teachers not selected have been invited and agreed to participate in the training provided by Music Will. The teachers include Katie McNeese, Hillcrest Elementary; Emma Mullins, Lakeside Academy; Charlene Cook, East Ridge Elementary; Carol Davis, East Brainerd Elementary; Melinda Chaney, East Side Elementary; Sarah Logue, Soddy Elementary, Joshua Steinmann, Middle Valley Elementary, Jade Watts, Daisy Elementary, Michael Mitchell, Barger Academy of Fine Arts; Gerald Souther, Woodmore Elementary; Bonnie Stoloff, CSAS Lower; Rebecca Clark, Nolan Elementary; Lindsey Burgess, Nolan Elementary; Katie Huffine, Lookout Mountain Elementary; Heather Shaw, Normal Park Lower; Jeremiah Williams, Sale Creek Middle/High; and Jamie Critchfield, Tyner Academy.