South Orange & Maplewood School District Named a Best Community for Music Education – Again

by The Village Green
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The South Orange & Maplewood School District has been named as one of the Best Communities for Music Education by the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Foundation for at least the ninth consecutive year, according to SOMSD Director of Fine Arts James Manno.

See the list of all 2021 “best communities” districts: https://www.nammfoundation.org/articles/bcme-2021-districts

The NAMM Foundation’s Best Communities for Music Education (BCME) Award “recognizes and celebrates school districts and schools for their support and commitment to music education and efforts to assure access to music for all students as part of a well-rounded education.”

The survey used to designate districts was developed in partnership with the Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas: “Survey questions are aligned with goals for equity and access to music education for all students, and also with national standards for music education. This survey seeks to support communities everywhere that are working to assure music education opportunities for all students.”

Here are Manno’s responses to the survey questions:

How many years has SOMSD gotten this honor? How many in a row?

The district has received the award for at least 9 years in a row.

What does the honor mean to you? For the district? For the students?

This honor confirms that the comprehensive music education programming we provide in the South Orange Maplewood School District via the Fine & Performing Arts Department is robust and competitive nationally. For the students, it means they have access to quality music programs ranging from Kindergarten to 12th grade, including having the experience of learning a musical band or string instrument starting in Grade 5.

Anything else you would want the public to know?

I think it’s important to note that the data used to determine the award was pulled from the year prior to COVID.  In order to maintain the Best Music Communities status it’s important that the arts and music programs receive the additional funding and support needed to help students catch up on musicianship skills instruction that was severely compromised in a virtual learning environment.

How long have you been with the district? And how long as Fine Arts Supervisor?

This is my 5th year with the district, I entered hired as the Supervisor of Fine Arts in August of 2016.

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