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ETM Welcomes Six New Partner Schools for 2012-13

This fall, with the addition of six new partner schools reaching an added 2,310 students, the ETM model now serves over 14,000 children in 28 schools throughout New York City. These new schools include four public schools: P.S. 103 in the Bronx, P.S. 84 and M.S. 313 in Brooklyn, and P.S./M.S. 7 in East Harlem. This year, ETM has also diversified the types of schools it assists, and its geographic reach. Brownsville Ascend Lower School in Brooklyn is ETM’s first charter school partner, while St. Thomas the Apostle—a parochial school in Queens—is the first ETM partnership in the borough.

According to Principal Farid Reyes of P.S. 103, hearing about the positive impact of music on school culture from other principals motivated him to partner with ETM. Principal Reyes, who believes his “students deserve all the opportunities available to enrich their educational experience,” has been convinced by the excitement of parents and students generated by ETM’s presence. He is already thinking long-term as he writes: “I wanted to bring a true musical experience to our students…[I hope] the continuity of music instruction…will help our students to develop critical and analytical skills that can be applied across subjects.”

P.S. 103’s ETM Music Teacher, Kara Simpson reports that students “enter [her] class like they were walking into a candy store”—excited by the opportunity to interact with new instruments daily. Since attending music class is novel for most of Ms. Simpson’s students, she has developed creative ways to channel their excitement into productive lessons. Ms. Simpson has also collaborated with her teacher-colleagues, whose support and acceptance of music as a core subject helps reinforce music class as a place of fun and learning. Even for the select group of older students initially resistant to music or exhibiting behavioral problems, Ms. Simpson has noticed small, but significant changes: “We have developed a more personal rapport. They understand that when they are on their best behavior they get to play instruments…they get to do and learn more.”

New ETM Music Teacher at P.S. 182 in the Bronx, Molly Kackloudis, echoes Ms. Simpson’s feedback. Ms. Kackloudis uses constant encouragement to motivate shy and disengaged students to “realize their potential to be successful in music class.” This has helped students develop norms for “participation, musicianship and behavior,” which have created important “spillover effects.” She says that there are already signs that teachers appreciate the music classes, parents are recognizing their children’s progress and students are developing interest in private music lessons.

At new partner school P.S./M.S. 7 in East Harlem, ETM Music Teacher Jason Atkinson invites all students to drop by his room after-school for individualized attention in their choice of guitar or drums. Every day Mr. Atkinson leaves his door open—aiming to create a safe space—and meets with a considerable number of students eager to take advantage of his offer. “It serves as a good example of students having a good time in class and wanting to reinforce their lessons.”

In addition to continued expansion, there are exciting program developments at several returning ETM partner schools, which strengthen our capacity. For instance, five music teachers previously on ETM’s payroll have been hired by our continuing partner schools. This  lays the groundwork for sustaining programs in the long-term and has helped ETM’s expansion, enabling new partnerships than might otherwise have been possible. The expansion was also made possible through support from grants from The New York Community Trust and the Emily Davie and Joseph S. Kornfeld Foundation.

While committed to high-quality in-school music instruction, ETM also continues to foster music appreciation and cultivate student achievement through co-elective activities. This year ETM will introduce new ensembles at two returning partner schools. M.S. 529 will feature a string orchestra comprised of students from its 6th and 7th grades, while P.S. 169 will add a 4th grade string orchestra. The students recruited to participate in this year’s orchestra at M.S. 529 were energized by the “ETM Festival” in June. The festival provided students with a glimpse into the pending program, and left them inspired by their peers’ performances. According to ETM Music Teacher Brittnay Kolodziej of M.S. 529, the students are enthusiastic: “In orchestra, we practiced following the conductor while plucking the D and A strings. Many of the students commented on how they had ‘goosebumps’ after hearing us all pluck in unison.”

ETM will work through the 2012-2013 school year alongside partner school communities, principals and teachers to provide sequential and standards based instruction. We will continue to develop curriculum aligned with the Common Core in content and approach, and emphasize professional development and integration to drive our impact. Ultimately, with the help of our supporters, we seek to make a sustained difference in the lives of children. Ultimately, just as ETM Music Teacher Kara Simpson, ETM hopes students, at both our new and returning partner schools, “let music become a part of them and bring joy to their lives.”