Please check out my blog “Music Saves Education” to hear stories of my daily work in the public schools, my recording projects with kids, my rap sessions with folks like Pete Seeger on how youth can work for peace. Before you do that, read on to get the rap on my great school in Southern NH:
Symonds School, a public school in Keene, NH, embraces a social curriculum that promotes learning, collaboration, peace, and justice. K-5 students and faculty alike promote a culture of respect, understanding and community. I am the music teacher for the 340 or so children that attend Symonds. It is my goal that each child come away from their experience with a sense of purpose, creativity, inner beat, and a sense of lifelong learning in music. They may not become a “musician” yet they will at least see the world as a place in which creative art forms are something in which they will not just spectate, but take part. Music is creative power. The sense of empowerment that a child or adult feels when participating in a dance, a group song, a drum circle, a band, and orchestra translates to empowerment in life.
In May 2011, with collaboration and a community effort (including a wonderful PTA) I wrote and successfully pulled off a play entitled “The Big Night”. It’s about the journey across the road that the yellow spotted salamander must take each year. In reality this journey is on one warm, damp spring night which makes the crossing that much more dangerous. In my play, a critical friendship, cooperation and humans needing to “slow down” are required for the animals to make it safely across the road. “The Big Night” was performed by over 320 children outdoors. Puppets were made by the children and the assistance of members of Bread and Puppet.
The choreography included everyone. Each grade level K-5 performed a dance routine created by master choreographer and teacher Paula Aarons.
Symonds is a model of success in PUBLIC EDUCATION thanks to the strong leadership of our principal Richard Cate.