By Kimberley Hughes and first appeared in the 2019 JUNO Souvenir Program
When Shannon Stevens, a planning time teacher working with primary school children, received a $10,000 MusiCounts Band Aid Program instrument grant in 2014-2015, she could not have imagined her efforts would eventually impact her entire Simcoe County community.
“With the grant money, we were able to transform a disused storage room into a music room and equip it with xylophones, ukuleles and some handheld instruments plus install a sound system for the school,” Stevens explains. “At the same time, I had great support from then-principal Eileen Carl who understood the importance of having a designated music teacher for grades one through three.” (As Stevens notes, subject-specific teachers are not typically hired at the elementary school level).
Stevens continues: “When that came together, our school board took note as did our area trustee. The question became, ‘Why is music happening at W.R. Best and not at other schools in the region?’ Fast-forward five years and now I sit on a committee within the Simcoe County District School Board and we are in year one of a three-year rollout plan for weekly music instruction.”
“That means that, at the end of three years, every student in the school board will be receiving weekly music instruction. Grades one through three will receive two, 50-minute periods per week, and grades four through eight will receive one, 40-minute music period per week for the entire year. That’s amazing.” Adds Stevens, “Something that basically started in a closet has now gone board-wide.”
If you’re a school in need of new instruments like W.R. Best, you can apply to the MusiCounts Band Aid Program each fall for up to $15,000 in instruments. Click here to get more information.
MusiCounts can only help 1 in 5 schools who apply to receive instruments. Click here to donate now and help us close the gap. Music adds possibilities for youth, and every donation counts.