Top 10 Highlights of the 2019-2020 School Year #9 – 20 schools received music instruments and training from Usher and Little Kids Rock
Posted on 05/12/2020
Photo: Dionne Upton, principal of Woodmore Elementary and winning teacher Jerome Souther check out the instruments in the Little Kids Rock program.We are reviewing the Top #10 highlights of 2019-2020 as we wind down to the end of a very unusual but successful school year. The highlight at #9 is 20 schools in Hamilton County receiving guitars, drums, keyboards, and drum sets from international recording star Usher, the Nancy Lackey Community Education Fund, and Little Kids Rock.

In March, Usher’s Nancy Lackey Community Education Fund and national music education nonprofit, Little Kids Rock, announced a partnership to launch Little Kids Rock’s highly inclusive, culturally relevant, and innovative music education programs in 20 Hamilton County Schools. More than 3,500 students will benefit from the unique curriculum and instruments donated to the schools. The group announced the awarding of the music programs at Brainerd High School.

Schools and teachers selected to receive the instruments and training for the Little Kids Rock program include Dustin Dotzler at Wallace A. Smith Elementary, Callie Kilbourne at Wolftever Creek Elementary, Kaela Miller at Hunter Middle School, and Michael Howard at Ooltewah Middle School in the Harrison Bay Learning Community. Schools selected in the Missionary Ridge Learning Community include Tammy Fisher at Spring Creek Elementary, Roxanna Edwards at Tyner Academy, and Pamela S. Watson at East Hamilton School. James McClary at Allen Elementary, Jeff McKnight, Middle Valley Elementary, Stefan Logue, Soddy Daisy Middle, and Sara Daniels, Hixson Middle received instruments in the North River Learning Community. In the Opportunity Zone, Sarah Tortora, Hardy Elementary; Brandon Middlebrooks, Calvin Donaldson Elementary; Jacob Burgess, Orchard Knob Elementary; Tracey Frazier, Brainerd High; and Jerome Souther, Woodmore Elementary, received a grant. In the Rock Point Learning Community, Amy Smith at Alpine Crest Elementary, Kaylee Stowers, Red Bank High, and Erin McKee, Normal Park Upper, were selected to receive the instrument grant.

Usher was not able to be with the group for the announcement but sent a message to the selected schools. “I’m so very happy to be working with Hamilton County Public Schools in Chattanooga to launch Little Kids Rock music programs in 20 public schools and to place these musical instruments and instruction in the hands of thousands of additional kids in Tennessee,” Usher said. “As a child, music changed my life. It gave me a creative outlet, a new language to use to communicate, and it continued to be a driving force in everything that I did, do, and will do. I’m very excited to pay it forward.”

Little Kids Rock transforms lives by restoring, expanding, and innovating music education in schools. Using genres, including rock, pop, Latin, and rap, the Little Kids Rock program empowers teachers to build music programs as diverse as the kids they serve. Students see themselves reflected in their classes, which strengthens their connection to their school, their peers, and their community. Little Kids Rock also donates necessary instruments and curriculum, meeting a key need for many school music programs. More than 500,000 kids currently participate in Little Kids Rock programs nationwide.

“When we teach in a way that kids want to learn, they want to learn more,” said Jill Levine, chief of Innovation and Choice for Hamilton County Schools. “If we want kids to show up for school, we want attendance to improve, and we want achievement to improve, then it is necessary to meet kids where they are and involve their interests in the learning process.”

Thirty-seven teachers applied for the Little Kids Rock program across the district. The teachers not selected have been invited and agreed to participate in the training provided by Little Kids Rock. The teachers include Katie McNeese, Hillcrest Elementary; Emma Mullins, Lakeside Academy; Charlene Cook, East Ridge Elementary; Carol Davis, East Brainerd Elementary; Melinda Chaney, East Side Elementary; Sarah Logue, Soddy Elementary, Joshua Steinmann, Middle Valley Elementary, Jade Watts, Daisy Elementary, Michael Mitchell, Barger Academy of Fine Arts; Gerald Souther, Woodmore Elementary; Bonnie Stoloff, CSAS Lower; Rebecca Clark, Nolan Elementary; Lindsey Burgess, Nolan Elementary; Katie Huffine, Lookout Mountain Elementary; Heather Shaw, Normal Park Lower; Jeremiah Williams, Sale Creek Middle/High; and Jamie Critchfield, Tyner Academy.

Top 10 for 2019-2020
#10 – Six new Future Ready Institutes added along with new branded community partners
# 9 – 20 schools receive a grant from Usher and Little Kids Rock

Photo: Dionne Upton, principal of Woodmore Elementary and winning teacher Jerome Souther check out the instruments in the Little Kids Rock program.