Kimberly, Wis. – For the ninth consecutive year, Kimberly Area School District (KASD) has again been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education. Now in its 23rd year, the 2022 Best Communities for Music Education program has recognized 738 school districts and 80 schools across 44 states for the outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students, and community leaders and their support for music education as part of a well-rounded education for all children.
To qualify for the Best Communities designation, KASD answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.
“We work hard to provide high-quality music opportunities within our schools, especially during the past two years,” said Craig Hietpas, band teacher at J.R. Gerritts Middle School. “The Board of Education, administration, music staff, community, and students worked together to make it all happen. As a result, this award has a deeper meaning for us than ever before.”
Since the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015 and a stated emphasis on a well-rounded education, many school districts have re-committed to music and arts education programs. During the pandemic, music and arts programs were a vital component to keeping students engaged in school. ESSA provides designated funding for well-rounded educational opportunities through Title IV Part A Student Academic Success and Achievement grants. NAMM Foundation research has revealed that these grants are being widely used by school districts to address instructional gaps in access to music and arts education.
Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music. After two years of music education, researchers found that participants showed more substantial improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores than their less-involved peers and that students who are involved in music are not only more likely to graduate high school, but also to attend college as well. Everyday listening skills are stronger in musically trained children than in those without music training. Significantly, listening skills are closely tied to the ability to perceive speech in a noisy background, pay attention, and keep sounds in memory. Later in life, individuals who took music lessons as children show stronger neural processing of sound. Young adults and even older adults who have not played an instrument for up to 50 years show enhanced neural processing compared to their peers. Not to mention, social benefits include conflict resolution, teamwork skills, and how to give and receive constructive criticism.