District 158 earns national award for music education efforts

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The District 158 Administration Center is located at 18300 Greenbay Avenue in Lansing, Illinois. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
BY JIM MASTERS

LANSING, Ill. (April 16, 2021) – School District 158’s music program has really “struck a chord” with the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation, who has honored the schools with its Best Communications for Music Education (BCME) award for the second straight year. NAMM honors schools that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.

District 158’s efforts rewarded

Coolidge Elementary School Assistant Principal Kenneth Byrne commended District 158’s music educators for teaching students various types of musical instruments and styles.

“They show our students that music has meaning and is powerful,” he said. “The music staff embeds character and cultural education into their curriculum. Our band programs provide students with an enriching, positive environment to expand upon their musical abilities. I could not be more impressed with the work of our music department.”

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Matthew Becker, District 158’s Director of Bands, expressed how fortunate he is to work with the students and how the Lansing community supports the arts.

“Music education serves an important and crucial part in the well-rounded education of all students,” he said.

Teaching music during COVID

Music teacher Erica Stephens noted the challenge of teaching music during the COVID-19 pandemic, “It goes without saying that this school year has been unlike any other we have experienced,” she said. “Instead of focusing on all the fun lessons and activities we would be missing out on in music class, I challenged myself to think of areas in our curriculum that could use a boost.”

She says it’s been a wonderful time focusing on listening to and studying different genres of music. Through financial support from the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), District 158 has been able to keep its music program active and thriving.

Importance of music education

Through music education, students enhance cognitive and social skills and are more likely to graduate high school and go on to college.

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As Coolidge Principal Pamela Hodgson attests, “Being a former band student myself, I understand the importance of music in the lives of students at an early age. I’m proud to be part of a school district where committed music teachers lead the way to introduce the love of music and to incorporate multiple genres of music into the lives of all students.”

Superintendent Dr. Nathan Schilling noted that this is District 158’s second consecutive BCME award.

“Our outstanding faculty, students, families, leadership, facilities, programs, and community continue to demonstrate why District 158 is a destination school district and Lansing is a destination community,” he said. “This continues to affirm our love, support, and advocacy for the arts, even during the historical and challenging time of a global health pandemic.”

District 158

District 158 incorporates Memorial Junior High School, 2721 Ridge Road; Calvin Coolidge Elementary School, 17845 Henry Street; Oak Glen Elementary School, 2101 182nd Street; Reavis Elementary School, 17121 Roy Street; and Lester Crawl Primary School, 18300 Greenbay Avenue. District offices are also located at 18300 Greenbay Avenue.

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