For second year, DPS music education program receives national recognition
The Danbury Public Schools district has been named a 2020 “Best Communities for Music Education School District” for its commitment to and support of music education for a second consecutive year.
On March 25, the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) released a list of 754 school districts nationwide, 21 of them in Connecticut, recognized as 2019 Best Communities for Music Education.
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.
Jill Russell-Benner, the DPS k-8 music department head, serves as the liaison between schools and nonprofit organizations and has been instrumental in getting funding to the schools specifically for music education.
“Being recognized as a ‘Best Community for Music Education’ two years in a row is an honor and speaks to the dedicated music staff and students in the Danbury Schools,” said Russell-Benner. “One of our primary goals has been to create access for all students in the arts and as a district, we continue to build on this each year. This award exemplifies our community's belief that music and arts are an integral component of our students' educational experience. We would like to thank the NAMM Foundation for this incredible distinction and continued support of Music Education in Danbury.”
In 2018, the Redding-based SpreadMusicNow presented a check for $40,000 to VH1 Save the Music Foundation to support the donation of musical instruments to the Danbury schools. VH1Save the Music donated $120,000 worth of musical instruments and supplies to support the elementary band programs at Ellsworth, Hayestown Avenue and Stadley Rough elementary schools. NAMM donated $20,000 to the foundation, as well.
Since that time, efforts continue to make certain that eventually all K-8 students will have access to musical instruments and education.
“It is a wonderful thing when our students can experience learning how to master an instrument and how to work with each other in a musical group,” said Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella. “We are so fortunate to have Jill working with the nonprofit communities. It is community partners like these that enable our students to be successful.”