Spring Independent School District has once again been presented with the Best Communities for Music Education Award by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation, a national nonprofit that celebrates and promotes the value of music education and music-making in schools and local communities. This is Spring ISD's sixth consecutive year receiving the designation.
"We're absolutely thrilled to be earning this award for the sixth year in a row," said Spring ISD Director of Performing and Visual Arts Dr. Joe Clark. "It's a testament to the support of our superintendent and his administration, to the hard work and dedication of our teachers, and to the way our Spring community has continued to rally around the arts and arts education. It means so much to us to have that support."
Now in its 20th year, the Best Communities for Music Education award program recognizes districts that demonstrate a committed effort to providing access to music and music education for their students. To qualify for the designation, districts must submit answers to detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs. Responses are then verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas before each year's designees are named.
"With arts integration being one of our district's strategic priorities this year, it's an especially good time to celebrate the success of our music education programs and the impact they have on students' lives," Clark said.
In his 2019 State of the District address, Superintendent Dr. Rodney E. Watson spoke directly to the impact that performing and visual arts education has had in Spring ISD, citing district data that showed students enrolled in arts education courses have better attendance rates; fewer disciplinary referrals; improved rates of academic eligibility; and, in some cases, even outperforming their campus averages by as much as 18 percentage points on state exams.
"When we look at the data, we see over and over again how participation in arts education programs not only contributes to our students' overall well-being and well-roundedness," Watson said, "but also how it correlates to higher academic outcomes. We can't ignore data like that, and it's one reason Spring ISD is pursuing arts integration across subjects and across the district. We've witnessed the positive impacts, and we want to see more students benefiting from those effects."
He also cited national data showing that involvement in the arts can help students earn higher grades and propel them on to higher rates of college enrollment and graduation. Last fall, Watson was selected by the Texas Music Educators Association for its TMEA Distinguished Administrator honor, in recognition of his support for music education programs at schools across the district.
Dekaney High School senior and choir president Yesenia Ruelas Reynaga, whose passion for music was featured in the district's 2019 State of the District video, has long believed that the music program at her school was a crucial part of her overall education.
"We have such a great fine arts program," she said last summer during an EMERGE-sponsored college trip to Boston. "I was a very insecure freshman, and I feel like because of choir, it has forced me to step out of my comfort zone and talk to more people than I'm used to, and perform on a stage in front of a bunch of people, and that really made me who I am. It made me the confident person that I am."
For more information about the Best Communities for Music Education award program or the NAMM Foundation, visit www.nammfoundation.org.