Governor Lamont announced that the State of Connecticut, through the State Department of Education, is partnering with TeachRock to launch an innovative, standards-aligned arts’ curriculum in schools statewide that empowers teachers to engage with students using the history of popular music and culture. Presented by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legend Steven Van Zandt’s Rock and Roll Forever Foundation, TeachRock works with participating school districts, at no cost, on the integration of classroom lesson plans that connect history, music, and culture in a way that is designed to resonate with students.
“Using popular music to grab students’ attention and pull them into their academic curriculum is a creative way to engage students and help them achieve success in their studies, and I thank TeachRock for developing this program and working with us to bring it to Connecticut schools,” Governor Lamont said.
“Especially during this time of a pandemic, we must give educators the tools they need to innovate from the inside out to engage students in creative ways,” Connecticut Education Deputy Commissioner of Education Desi Nesmith said. “TeachRock’s unique curriculum does that by connecting students to history, culture, and human experiences while positively impacting their social-emotional development.”
“When I was a teenager, school wasn’t reaching me,” TeachRock founder Steven Van Zandt said. “It didn’t speak to my needs or interests, and I saw no future in a society I was supposed to be a part of. Then the Beatles saved my life. Rock and roll and soul. The arts gave me the confidence to forge a path in the world. It’s vitally important that we provide curricula that students from communities that grew up around rock, soul, country, salsa, hip hop, and other styles will recognize. We need to reach the part of their brain that responds emotionally and instinctively, that uses imagination rather than facts and specifics. Something that makes them relax and feel more comfortable about the very process of education. And right now is when kids need us the most.”
TeachRock has worked directly with districts and schools in California, New Mexico, New Jersey, and New York over the past several years, and this spring Steven Van Zandt has launched “Little Steven’s Virtual Classroom Tour,” which is an initiative through which he will utilize Zoom to enter a classroom each week through the remainder of the school year. The initiative includes an opportunity for any teacher to have their classroom considered for a visit and is a fundraiser for the foundation as well.
Research has shown that knowledge of and participation in the arts, especially during the formative years, can aid in the development of students as culturally-responsive, compassionate, creative, and contributing members of society. Developed by experienced educators, TeachRock’s arts integration curriculum weaves music history through core subjects such as English language arts and social studies. The lesson plans demonstrate the intersection of social, political and economic forces with popular culture and how music has shaped and reflected those forces across the centuries.
Each year, districts can apply to participate in the TeachRock partnership and the number of TeachRock schools will increase annually as the program expands across Connecticut. Partner districts will take part in focused professional learning on designing engaging instruction and on the implementation of TeachRock curricula materials which will all be available in an online library.