Both the Syosset and Jericho school districts often impress with academic success stories, from valedictorians and salutatorians to science competitions and spelling bees.
But students in the districts can also carry a tune, as the schools were recently honored with the Best Communities for Music Education from the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Foundation for outstanding dedication to music education. Syosset and Jericho join close to 500 districts across the country in receiving the prestigious award. This is Jericho’s 18th consecutive year receiving the honor, while Syosset marks its 15th time.
The Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students. The districts recognized by the NAMM Foundation are often held up as models for other educators looking to boost their own music education programs.
To qualify for the musical designation, district officials from Jericho and Syosset answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.
“Each year, ‘Best Communities’ gives us a new target as we aim to make certain that we are bringing highly qualitative music education to the students of Jericho,” said Ken Pollitt, curriculum associate for fine and performing arts in Jericho. “Your organization has challenged us to appreciate what we have and to continually find new ways to enhance what we do.”
The NAMM Foundation’s award and the implementation of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) bring attention to the importance of keeping music education part of the school’s core education for all students, according to officials from both districts.
Meanwhile, community music programs have been drawing increased attention because of a landmark study by Northwestern University brain scientists. These researchers found new links between students in community music programs and academic success in subjects such as reading.
“This is a wonderful distinction for our program because it is an award that recognizes the Syosset community’s commitment to music education,” Michael Salzman, Syosset’s coordinator of fine and performing arts for K-12. “Syosset has long recognized the importance of music education in the lives of its young people. We have great teachers and talented students, all of whom achieve excellence because of the level of community support for music education found in Syosset.”