March 28, 2016
Upper St. Clair nationally recognized for music education
The Upper St. Clair School District was recently named among the nation’s Best Communities for Music Education by the NAMM Foundation. Upper St. Clair is one of only 10 school districts in Allegheny County, 63 in Pennsylvania and 476 from across the country to earn the distinction in 2016.
“This award recognizes the commitment of our school administrators, school board, teachers and parents who believe in music education and are working to ensure that it is part of a complete education for all children,” Don Pickell, performing arts curriculum leader and band director, said. “This distinction highlights music education in Upper St. Clair and demonstrates that our school district provides excellent opportunities for music learning.”
According to the NAMM Foundation, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students. Districts are assessed on a variety of factors including funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, and community music-making programs. This marks Upper St. Clair’s first time earning the recognition.
Dr. Patrick T. O’Toole, superintendent of schools, attributes the success of Upper St. Clair’s music program to the quality of its music faculty, community support and motivated students.
“We are extremely fortunate to have many professional musicians on staff, people who have performed and studied their craft for many years at a very high level,” Dr. O’Toole said. “In addition, the music program benefits greatly from enormous parental support including a vibrant Band Parents Association.”
In its 17th year, the BCME designation is an important part of the NAMM Foundation’s efforts to advocate for school-based music education. Numerous studies have demonstrated that learning to play music can boost other academic and social skills.
“As research strongly supports the correlation between music education and student achievement, we take enormous pride in receiving this honor,” Dr. O’Toole said. “In addition to our gifted student musicians, our music program provides all students – regardless of skill – opportunities to further develop 21st century skills that are vital to their development including leadership, collaboration, communication, teamwork, interpersonal skills and goal-setting.”
According to the NAMM Foundation, this award recognizes that Upper St. Clair School District is leading the way with learning opportunities as outlined in the new federal education legislation, the Every Student Succeeds Act. ESSA, which recently replaced the No Child Left Behind Act, recognizes music and the arts as important elements of well-rounded education for all children.
“Upper St. Clair is defining itself as a leader in music education by becoming an increasingly visible program in the community and Pittsburgh area,” Mr. Pickell said.
“We are demonstrating that students can achieve at a very high level in both music and academics, and that each supports the other.”
Other Allegheny County school districts named 2016 Best Communities for Music Education include: Bethel Park, Clairton City, Fox Chapel Area, McKeesport Area, Moon Area, Mt. Lebanon, North Allegheny, North Hills, and Quaker Valley school districts.
The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its approximately 10,300 members around the world. The foundation advances active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs. For more information about the NAMM Foundation, please visit www.nammfoundation.org.