Music is integral to the learning experience, not just as a subject in its own right but as a tool for teaching math and science. Yet, in an era of budget cuts and student testing, it remains on the periphery of the public education curriculum—if it remains in the curriculum at all.
This growing chasm between funding and needs means new solutions must be developed to insure that music and art programs not only stay in the curriculum but move to the center—alongside math, science, and reading. Such solutions will require the teaching staff, the community, the school system, and the local education foundation to partner together.
In the 2011-12 school year, music teacher Michael Kalasz formed the Edsel Ford High School (EFHS) Jazz Band. Of course, EFHS had a band, but Mr. Kalasz wanted to teach his students specifically about the unique American music form of jazz, not through a lecture or a single song but by drenching them in a full repertoire of jazz music, including songs like “Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me” and “Puttin’ on the Ritz”. The sheet music that would be needed for their size and variety of instruments was estimated at about $500.
Knowing these dollars would not be available through the school budget, Mr. Kalasz petitioned the Dearborn Public Schools Education Foundation (DPSEF) for the funds. Through its partnership with the DPSEF, LaFontaine Automotive Group contributed the funding for the sheet music. Because of individual and corporate donors like LaFontaine, over the last 20 years, the DPSEF has helped fund $1,500,000 worth of student activities and classroom tools. All of which inform students’ worldviews; tap into skill sets as yet unexplored; and increase students’ capacities to learn.
The Dearborn Public Schools Education Foundation is a licensed 501c3 non-profit that provides grants to fund technology, equipment, and innovative programs for Dearborn Public Schools.
Dearborn Education Foundation
18700 Audette, Dearborn, MI 48126