Boy, has school ever changed since the days of the ruler and the apple, and a “let’s all be quiet” approach.
The Polk County Public School District is rolling out, or “rock and rolling” out, that is, a whole new thing in education.
Partnering with Usher’s New Look, a nonprofit organization committed to developing global youth leaders founded by Usher Raymond IV, the school system seeks to bring two cutting edge music education programs to McLaughlin Middle School and Fine Arts Academy.
Mark Galbo, founder of Rock ‘n’ Roll Academy, based in Colorado, was present with James Harris, Atlanta program coordinator for Usher’s New Look, at McLaughlin last Thursday and Friday, as the school “ushered” in the new program.
The event started with students batting large beach balls above them, and progressed to lessons about branding, taking charge, being willing to face your fear, and networking, among other things.
“Now we are coming together as a network,” said Harris, who mingled with students and sang positive messages.
Students were encouraged to bring songs, dance, and other forms of expression, such as poetry, in participation.
Everyone was permitted to take “selfies” and photos of the program, another way to engage the children.
Galbo told students that “courage is not the lack of fear, but it is taking action in the face of fear,” noting that he moved around a lot as a child and likewise got “picked on” as well.
Students were taught to remember the four letters: TECS, or “Talent, Education, Career, Service.”
School officials say the courses will begin this fall.
New Look introduced Music Industry Leadership 101, a course that blends leadership and music, giving high school students exposure to more than 30 possible career pathways in the music and marketing industry.
According to promotional literature, “Music Industry Leadership 101 is under review as a full credit-earning course for high school students in several states developed in partnership with Beanstalk Innovation. The pilot program, which launched earlier this month, will reach more than 2,000 students around the country. The program offered through the Rock ‘n’ Roll Academy places students in charge of their own education by allowing participants to explore Social Emotional Learning as they form authentic student bands. Both programs empower youth to be autonomous and responsible members of their local and global communities.”
Superintendent of Schools Kathryn M. LeRoy, who was present at the rollout event Thursday, said that Polk County Public Schools considers this “an opportunity to partner with these extraordinary organizations to be an incredible gift.
“This will give our students a chance to tap into their musical talents and to learn to become good stewards of our local and global communities. We look forward to seeing the great things that lie ahead as our partnerships with Usher’s New Look and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Academy continues to blossom.”
According to a press release issued by the district, parents of McLaughlin Middle School and Fine Arts Academy students (enrolled in 6th, 7th, or 8th grade), as well as all other students zoned for McLaughlin are asked to contact the school for more information about Music Industry Leadership 101 and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Academy by calling 863-678-4233.
“Please ask for Sharon Chipman, Madalyn Hilliard, or Julie Fisher,” officials note.
The district literature notes that arts education enhances learning by developing cognitive and critical thinking skill sets that are also used in mastering math and reading skills. An education in arts encourages high achievement and encourages a suppleness of mind, toleration for ambiguity, a taste for nuance, and the ability to make trade-offs among alternative courses of action.
For more information about arts education programs offered in Polk County Public Schools, contact Beth Cummings, Acting Director of Fine Arts, Polk County Public Schools, 863-647-4729, firstname.lastname@example.org.