Encore: ‘Best Communities for Music Education’

Encore: Chula Vista Again Makes List of ‘Best Communities for Music Education’
Posted on 04/22/2019
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For the second consecutive year, the Chula Vista Elementary School District has been honored with the “Best Communities for Music Education” designation from the NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education.


The Best Communities for Music Education honor is bestowed upon school districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in providing music access and education to all students. To qualify for the Best Communities designation, CVESD 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.


“We are very proud of the efforts that our arts partners, community leaders, staff and Board of Education have made to ensure music education is supported throughout our District,” said CVESD Superintendent Francisco Escobedo, Ed.D. “This award is a shared achievement, involving numerous arts organizations, students, and families. We couldn’t be prouder. Winning this two years in a row is no accident.”A CVESD plays a wind instrument at recent performance.


In 2010, CVESD collaborated with the San Diego Youth Symphony (SDYS) and Conservatory to establish an after-school music program in two high-economic need elementary schools. Called “Community Opus,” the program was inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema music education initiative and was an immediate hit in the pilot schools. Six more campuses followed with Opus programs of their own. By 2014-15, the Board of Education announced the District would hire full-time arts instructors and provide VAPA instruction during the school day for all students.


Today, nearly 90 VAPA teachers provide programs in Music, Dance, Theater, and Media/Visual Arts. The investment in VAPA was among the services funded by the District’s Local Control and Accountability Plan.


Chula Vista’s arts initiative has attracted a host of high-profile partners, such as the VH1 Save the Music Foundation and Grammy Award-winning band Switchfoot, among others. Recognition has flowed Chula Vista’s way as well, with honors from the prestigious Yale School of Music. In addition, in 2016, the Board was recognized by the California School Boards Association (CSBA) with a Golden Bell Award for excellence in VAPA. Most recently, Guitars in the Classroom has helped support music teachers in utilizing ukuleles for students with Special Needs. A grant from the Rotary Club of Chula Vista Eastlake will provide additional professional development and training to help grow Guitars in the Classroom in CVESD.


Students are thriving, thanks to music instruction in CVESD.“It is because of partners like Rotary, like NAMM Foundation, like Guitars in the Classroom, that we have been able to really build our programs and foster our growth,” said Lauren Shelton, the District’s Coordinator for VAPA. “We can’t do it without our partnerships. We’re so fortunate our partners help us get what our children really need and that we cannot get ourselves. It makes for a deeper impact when we know the community is rallying for us, helping us serve and meet our students’ needs and interests.”


The Best Communities for Music Education award, the latest in a string of honors for CVESD, recognizes that Chula Vista schools are leading the way with learning opportunities as outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The legislation guides implementation in states and replaces the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which was often criticized for an overemphasis on testing-while leaving behind subjects such as music. ESSA, meanwhile, recommends music and the arts as important elements of a well-rounded education for all children. 


That’s music to the ears of Dr. Escobedo. He said music spurs students’ innovation and creativity. “When you make the arts a priority, you help transform students—and the entire community,” Dr. Escobedo said.


About the Chula Vista Elementary School District

The Chula Vista Elementary School District is the largest Transitional Kindergarten through Grade 6 district in California. CVESD serves more than 29,600 students at 49 schools, including charters, in southern San Diego County. In 2010, the District and the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory launched the “Community Opus Project” as an after-school program at two schools with high populations of students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds. Community Opus grew to six campuses. Today, in addition to after-school arts programs, Visual and Performing Arts teachers provide instruction in Music, Dance, Theater, and Media/Visual Arts as part of the instructional day. The District’s investment in VAPA was among the services funded in large part by its Local Control and Accountability Plan.


About The NAMM Foundation

The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its approximately 10,400 members around the world. The foundation advances active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving, and public service programs. For more information about the NAMM Foundation, please visit www.nammfoundation.org.

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