Designations are made to districts and schools that "demonstrate an exceptionally high commitment and access to music education," stated the NAMM Foundation.
James Manno, Fine Arts Supervisor for the SOMSD, shared that he thinks the school district consistently receives this award "because of rich staffing and the quality programs we offer."
In addition to strong music programs at each of the district schools, Manno also emphasized the impact of involvement from parents and the district's music teachers. "We have very supportive music parent groups at all levels and a supportive music and arts community. The music staff is very active in showcasing their groups at festivals and at district and local events," stated Manno.
Manno also thought the award reflected the strong partnerships and relationships SOMSD has formed with music education and professional music organizations, which include the Montclair State John J. Cali School of Music, Jazz House Kids, and the American String Quartet.
The award also recognizes the strong music programs at all SOMSD schools, stated Manno highlighting the following programs at each of the schools:
In addition to full time music teachers, and a supporting part-time music teacher, there are also two full time elementary school instrumental music teachers for grade 5 students, who can participate in either a strings or a band program.
SOUTH ORANGE MIDDLE SCHOOL AND MAPLEWOOD MIDDLE SCHOOL
At the middle school level, here are three full time music teachers at both middle schools, who service all music areas -- band, strings and vocal music -- as well as a part-time woodwind specialist.
COLUMBIA HIGH SCHOOL
The high school has three full time music teachers servicing all music areas, as well as a marching band program, a Jazz band, and a music tech program.
“The schools and districts we recognize this year – both new and repeat honorees – represent a diverse group of urban, rural and suburban districts and demographics,” said Mary Luehrsen of The NAMM Foundation. “Along with a strong commitment to music education, there are two common traits that each program shares: consistent funding that anchors music education as part of the core curriculum and music programs that are located in communities where music education is viewed as a jewel of the school system. Parents, administrators and community members are proud of these local music programs and attend them regularly.”
See the full list of 583 school districts that were designated "Best Communities for Music Education" here.