Winton Woods District Receives 2015 Best Communities for Music Education Designation
Winton Woods City Schools has received a 2015 Best Communities for Music Education Designation from the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Foundation, joining five other local school districts in achieving this honor. Indian Hill, Wyoming, Sycamore, Forest Hills and Lebanon were also among 388 school districts chosen from more than 2000 schools that took part in the application process.
“This was a comprehensive survey that included everything from instructional hours to music’s incorporation in the core curriculum,” said Felipe Morales-Torres, orchestra director for Winton Woods City Schools. He and Elizabeth Hannah, Winton Woods High School choir director, led the application process with the assistance of the district’s entire K-12 music staff.
“Of special note is that while 388 schools were recognized, not all of those districts offer a comprehensive music curriculum,” said Morales-Torres. “It is not the norm for a district to offer band, choir, and orchestra. It is even more unusual for students to be able to participate in more than one discipline from fifth through twelfth grade.” He said he would estimate that 80% or more of students district-wide participate in the music program.
Throughout the application process, Morales-Torres and Hannah were able to highlight the ways the music department actively contributes to the school system’s broader goals. “With the district’s focus on developing globally-conscious and active citizens, it is invaluable that students have the opportunity to give back through events like Concert for a Cause, which Varsity Ensemble will be participating in, or to experience other cultures through travel opportunities like the orchestra’s Latin American Arts Immersion in Miami and the band’s cultural exchange with our sister school in China,” said Morales-Torres.
Winton Woods students begin their formal music education in kindergarten and have access to over 40 minutes a week of instrumental and choral instruction beginning in the fifth grade. Daily instruction begins at the middle school, along with opportunities for theatrical and competitive performances. There are a multitude of daily ensembles and extra-curricular opportunities added in high school.
“We also scored points for the variety of experiences outside the classical genres that we provide through our a cappella choirs, the high school jazz band, and the middle school alternative orchestra, WiRED.”
Other survey questions assessed levels of activity and community support. Morales-Torres noted that the district offers more than 25 public performances a year, all of which are regularly attended by community members, as well as the families of performers. “And that number doesn’t include the myriad performances we’ve made in partnership with neighboring school districts, honors ensembles, and professional organizations like the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Pops,” he said.
Two Winton Woods music teachers are also members of OMEA District 14 leadership: Winton Woods Middle School Choir Director Janna Frank is co-chair of the Junior High Honor Choir and Morales-Torres is chair-elect of the Southwest Region Orchestra.
“In answering the survey questions, we were able to consistently select the highest possible marker for nearly every category,” said Morales-Torres. “Here at Winton Woods, we do it all, and we do it big.”
The NAMM Foundation celebrates and promotes the intrinsic value of music education. This program, which is in its sixteenth year, singles out districts for outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders who have made music education part of the core curriculum.