Winton Woods City Schools (WWCS) outstanding music education program has received a 2018 Best Communities for Music Education Designation from the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation, for the third year. The district joins 583 school districts and 135 schools across the nation in achieving this honor.
Receiving this designation meant completing detailed questions that included everything from instructional hours to music’s incorporation in the core curriculum. Winton Woods High School (WWHS) band director Danelle Ashbrook and WWHS associate choir director Beth Miller led the application process with the assistance of the district’s entire K-12 music staff. “Winton Woods students begin their formal music education in kindergarten,” said Ashbrook. “Beginning in fifth grade, students can be in band or orchestra, and choir. Daily instruction begins at the middle school, where we offer choir, band, and orchestra, along with theatrical and competitive performances. In high school, there is a multitude of student ensemble options—acapella groups, jazz ensemble, marching band, pep band, and other music educational opportunities. Students can also audition and play in college honor bands, district honor bands, orchestras, and choirs.”
For a second year, the Fostering Achievement in Music Education (FAME) program has enhanced the district’s application process thanks to a generous grant of more than $8,000 from Matinee Musicale Cincinnati. This initiative provides quality instruments and private instruction to deserving students, particularly those from families with limited resources. “With these funds, we have been able to introduce new instruments, as well as free private vocal and instrumental lessons for our students,” said Miller. “I have seen the great impact it has had on the quality of our performing groups. The positive outcome has increased student participation, as has had a direct outcome towards students being better prepared academically.”
Miller also highlighted a few ways the music department actively contributes to the school system’s broader goals of developing students into active citizens. “For all grade levels, we try to provide as many opportunities to give back, perform, and speak in public settings on a state and international level. Through events like ‘A Night of Freedom,’ a recent partnership with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, students in grades K-12 are able to create and perform authentic standards based curriculum projects. These projects were presented to members of the community. We provide continual travel opportunities like the band’s trip to Walt Disney in Orlando, Florida, and the band’s cultural exchange with our sister school in China that included performing in three cities and on the Great Wall.”
When asked what WWCS has that other districts do not, Miller said, “The amount of love and respect that the educators, parents, students, administration, and community members have
for this program. It also comes from the students and their love of performing. They all make the difference. It’s ingrained in this community and we hope to continue that tradition."