Happy Thanksgiving, Friends,
All of us working and volunteering with Guitars in the Classroom want to thank you for your solidarity, charity, engagement and concern for the workd. Thanks for taking action and creating change. Your efforts with Guitars in the Classroom have been empowering us to bring more musical opportunities to children and youth around the nation. Together we are improving the quality of learning, improving student participation and giving our children and youth the keys to creativity!
Here is a quick peek at the latest developments your giving is making possible. This fall we have been launching new classes from Burlington, Vermont, Brooklyn, NY and Worcester, Massachusetts clear across the country to Longmont, Colorado and Lemon Grove, California. Teachers at every grade level and with every specialization are bringing music into their classrooms! More teachers are giving students hands-on opportunities to strum ukuleles and guitars while the classrooms sings their songs for learning than ever before- and best of all, teachers who started training with us a year or more ago are continuing! For teachers who have never played before (73%), sticking with the learning process takes time, dedication and passion but the pay-off is so important.
It's particularly exciting that more teachers in high poverty schools, rural schools and more special educators have been joining the ranks of GITC. In San Diego alone, 20% of our teachers in training are working with special needs groups including children who have moderate to severe disabilities, autism, physical handicaps and who have suffered trauma. Music knows no boundaries. It touches and unites every heart. Giving teachers the training, tools, materials and encouragement to lead and adapt music for total inclusion is what we are committed to doing in the new year.
Our work is in hundreds of schools around the country, but let's take a minute to focus on one: Dewey Elementary. Dewey's GITC program is growing this fall! Dewey serves approximately 65% military dependents whose parents rank is E6 and below. 73% of their families qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch . Their students move an average of every 2.9 years and 13% of their students receive special education due to us being so close to Balboa Naval Hospital. Children with profound medical challenges whose parents serve in the military are likely to go to school at Dewey. Just last week thanks to you, we were able to deliver new sets of ukuleles to all the participating GITC faculty members so every child in their classrooms can strum and sing to learn, weekly! Teachers Kim Smith, Katie Stoesz, Melanie Billingsley and Jerry Savin are leading the way and we are looking forward to bringing 5 more Dewey teachers into the program this winter.
And now we have added a new program working with San Diego County's Juvenille Court Schools for teen students who have been incarcerated or expelled from regular schools. With your support, these young people are discovering that they have music inside them- and the patience and passion needed to learn to play guitar. Despite facing unimaginable hardship, cruelty and trauma, we are seeing these students find their smiles, their voices and their dreams. Music given with love and faith has that power. We recently welcomed guitar educator and rocker James Clarkston to our faculty to work directly with these teens and their teachers. The GITC music repertoire is quickly expanding! We'll be looking for more very capable faculty members to join this effort in 2016 thanks to a grant that just arrived from Cox Communication's Cox Care Foundation!
There's so much more to tell but you've got things to do. So please stay tuned in with us on facebook to see the daily good news from the schools that your generosity makes possible! With guitar sponsors, Godin Guitars, Martin Guitars, LAG Guitars (Korg USA) and Oriolo Guitars, Saga Musical Instruments, Goldfish Guitars and Kala Brand Music continuing to place instruments in our hands for the teachers and students, we all have much to be thankful for. Please stay with us during your end-of-year giving. With your participation, we can make this an outstanding 2016 for kids in need around the country.
We sincerely want to thank the great folks at GlobalGiving.org for their service, diligence and good will and for keeping everyone's onling giving experience so safe and enjoyable.
May your table be blessed with the warmth of friendship, an abundance of nourishment and the peace that doing one's best for others always inspires.
The summer has flown by very quickly and we have such nice news to share! As you prepare for the autumn ahead, thanks for taking a couple minutes to look back at what GITC has been up to with your help. We are grateful you stay tuned in with our organization.
Also in June, our founder and director, Jessica Baron and Guitars in the Classroom were honored by the My Hero Foundation with the prestigious 2015 My Hero Award during an evening celebrating heroism through music education at the Herb Alpert Foundation We hope you'll enjoy the video created to honor our leader and our work through the link included in this enewsletter.
Each time people hear about our non-profit, more children get the chance to learn through music in their schools. This is one reason the artists and the awards are so important. Artists have the power to inspire their fans and their fans have the power to join all of you who are helping to change the tide of musical access in public education. Together we can get this done.
Fall classes will be ready for teacher enrollment later this month and we are expanding classes quite a lot in 2015-16 thanks to your commitment to making music a part of learning for every child. Thank you for staying with us!
With over 50% of American children living at or below the poverty level, it's crucial to their success in school that we make learning positive, creative, supportive and collaborative. Nothing has both the power to bring us human beings together and uplift our spirits quite like making music!
Into a brighter future with your participation and our gratitude for all you! Thank you from all of us working with GITC. Please keep giving. Your charity matters.
They say pictures are worth a thousand words. We want to thank you at least that many times for the good you have been doing this school year by helping out. The photos in the report below are just a few from some of our programs in the San Diego area where we have volunteer photographers Mike Maher and Ismael Ortega visiting regularly. But trust me, this work is going on from coast to coast. From Oxnard, CA and Longmont CO to Worcester, MA and Burlington, VT, the teachers and kids are singing to learn and learning to sing.
It's been a busy school year and we're not done quite yet! Mr. Renner and his first grade (below) are preparing songs for Open House next week in a year round school where kids will be strumming and singing until mid July. You will see in the children's eyes the joy, exuberance and sense of belonging they feel when music becomes a part of their learning process.
We'll write again next month with a bigger report, but for now, please enjoy these glimpses into the magical experiences you kindness is creating.
With overwhelming gratitude,
You may be asking yourself, "Why is Guitars in the Classroom thanking me for helping children learn to read? I donated to their music program. What gives?"
Recently, our organization has been focusing musical interventions in classrooms on helping students who are struggling to acquire English as a second language to improve their speaking, reading and writing skills through songs and songwriting. Your gift is making a double difference for these children because as they learn to feel, count and keep the beat, strum ukuleles, sing together and on their own, they are also learning to read.
Think back to when you first started reading. Do you remember the mystery of which way the stems to "b, d, p and q" went? Imagine growing up in a Spanish speaking household where h's are silent and j's sound like "y's", then coming to school and being expected to know how to spell words with all of those letters. Children in grade 2 who are still having trouble with these essential kinds of language components need a way to get the information into their minds and mouths that has nothing to do with a worksheet or a test. They must use them in motivating, meaningful contexts everyday.
This winter, your dollars are helping us train teachers to reverse the language learning train back into the station before it runs off the rails leaving kids behind. The teachers in underperforming schools around the US who are studying with us are writing lyrics to songs that will really matter to their specific students by teaching intial consonants, letter blends, consonant vowel consonant words and much more. By reteaching the basic letters and sounds embedded in an undeniable rhythm and melody, children are finally able to memorize, recognize and use them! We are seeing the kids enthusiastically grasping language while really loving learning through music.
This month, you can enjoy the feature piece from the Today Show that shows performer Jason Mraz interacting in a second grade GITC classroom at Luther Burbank Elementary School in Logan Heights, San Diego. This school has 100% poverty and over 70% English Learners. In that classroom filmed by the Today Show, we are coaching teacher Christine Tomkinson to also apply music to teaching skip counting! The link to the video is included in this report.
I hope you will feel proud of this work that YOU, yes you have made possible. Our work here in the barrio was funded exclusively by donations to this project! As part of the President's Committee on Arts and Humanities, our work at Luther Burbank does not receive government funding, just their inclusion in statistical outcomes after three years. Without you, we could not be participating. Now, 10 of the 13 faculty members on staff are actively training with GITC, leading and writing songs for learning, and kids in every classroom are strumming ukuleles during math, reading, social studies and science when they sing their lessons. The school is transforming from a place of conflict and suffering caused by abject poverty into a bright artistic environment with happier students and encouraged teachers. I was visiting yesterday and actually saw an 8 year old boy singing and skipping from his classroom to the office. A first!
Please stay with this project and help us create materials that teachers everywhere can use for free. We want every child to benefit from our efforts this year and your participation is necessary to make it possible. Our dream for the 2015 school year is a new place on the website with songs and lessons for English and Math learning at every grade level!
Thank you for giving us the support we need to make such a substantial difference in the lives of our neediest students. The ripple effect will be felt for generations.
Peace and grateful best wishes,
Happy New Year, GITC Music Giver!
As 2015 begins, all of us working to bring music to learning across the curriculum with GITC want to thank you for a magnificent opening few months of school and a successful 2014!
This past fall thanks to each one of you, Guitars in the Classroom has been able to bring learning to life for children from Vermont, Massachusetts and Virginia, down the eastern seaboard through South Carolina, into the Gulf Coast region, through Michigan and clear across the country to California...then out into the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii! Your charity is making this progress and joy possible truly all over our nation as well as in parts of Canada! Teachers in Ontario continue to lead songs for learning and we are working on a pilot program now with leadership from Robert and Janet Godin in their city of Quebec. Music is ubiquitous, universal, and children benefit from singing to learn everywhere. Thanks to everyone here, the power of music is lighting up classrooms in so many places this school year.
This fall, you gave us the "fuel" to get instruments into the hands of teachers and children in classrooms in public schools that long ago lost their elementary music classes - and this feels like a miracle to kids who want so much to get the chance to learn. Teachers like Patrice Maller at Silvergate Elementary in San Diego learned to play and lead songs with GITC last summer. Now her student are writing songs regularly and playing them, too. You can read about that at our website. So are the children in Joey Sutera's class in Santee, California and you can see the joy on their faces in the photo below! Children at the Fernando Pullum Community Arts Center in the heart of South Central Los Angeles are learning to play guitar, too thanks to donor Jim O'Brien, here at Global Giving. And this year, on Maui, teachers at the Pomaika'i Elementary School worked with their students to write and perform songs about the water cycle on their island and about marine life! These students have not had any formal music education but this year, their teachers are introducing ukuIele and guitars thanks to you.
I hope you'll take a moment to look at these photos and really see the spark your giving has lit for these young people and their teachers. Then consider what their lives would be like if you had not given a donation.
In these challenging financial times, with your contribution, GITC has been filling a critical gap for children who need upliftment, positive engagement and creative learnng through the arts! By helping their classroom teachers intelligently integrate hands-on musical experiences as a part of learning math, science, social studies, English and so much more, you are creating lasting change in the schools. Once a teacher learns to do this work, they have the skills for life! We are also working hard to support the return of music education to these schools and this fall even began training music teachers in Los Angeles Unified Schools to lead the way. These are exciting, hopeful times.
Together, we are collaborating on developing new understandings and materials for teachers that highlight the science of music, the math and patterning of composition, the acquisition of key reading strategies through songwriting and reading lyrics! In Oxnard, CA, students who are new to America and learning to speak and read in English through songs, singing and songwriting. In Burlington, Vermont, the students have been learning American history through song. In Boston, Massachusetts, the children are singing about their futures and how to aim high. In San Diego, they are singing about the order of operations, skip counting and garden science. All this music is because we are innovating in your name.
Please donate again if you love this cause and help us do more. At GITC, we know that one day, some of the children we reach in 2015 who are unable to read now will successfully graduate high school because we do this work together. Some will become musicians, es, and others will be creative thinkers in every field... and all will be able to pass the love of music and the body of traditional folk songs on to their own children.
Thank you for all you have made possible in 2014! One classroom at a time, we are making education better. Let's keep going.
With appreciation and gratitude,
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