Cassopolis Public Schools shows a commitment to the arts

CASSOPOLIS — Soon, the singing voices of children, banging of drums and stomping of small, dancing feet will likely return to Sam Adams Elementary School.

At the Cassopolis Public Schools Board of Education meeting on May 14, several new and updated positions were approved for the 2018-19 school year, including one for a general music team. This position was cut years ago, but will be brought back after the board unanimously voted to approve updating the position. It has been one of the listed positions on the district’s employment page since May 15, the day after the meeting.

“I guess that was a position that was cut a few years back, but it’s really important,” said Angela Piazza, superintendent of Cassopolis Public Schools, after the meeting. “I’m committed to the fine arts, and I want to see that come back, so I was really glad they approved bringing that position back.”

The main responsibilities of the new music teacher would be to provide students in kindergarten through sixth grade with “general music instruction,” according the job posting the district’s website.

Angela Piazza

“I believe the fine arts are very important for our students. It’s a way to reach students,” Piazza said. “Students learn differently and all of these things are important, and it just makes for a more well-rounded student.”

The teacher may also be involved with the district’s overall music instruction and collaborate with the high school band and choir programs in order to best meet students’ needs.

“It also engages students who love music or have an interest in music, and we hope that it enhances them moving forward into our other programs as they get in to junior high and high school, such as choir and band,” Piazza said. “It’s an area that I would like to grow. I just believe in music education, and I feel that it’s an essential part of enhancing all of their other areas.”

Piazza said there are a number of ways in which general music education can assist students’ overall development.

“There’s all kinds of research that talks about how students learn through music,” she said. “So yes, it can enhance their content areas. … When you help students learn about different cultures, music is a big part of that.”

According to the National Association of Music Education, there are a number of other ways that music education can help improve a child’s development, such as increased coordination, emotional development, discipline and creative thinking.

An aspect of the of the arts that Piazza said the new general music teacher can help bring back to the elementary school is plays and musicals.

“I would love to bring that back where we have the traditional winter performance and spring performance,” she said. “I just feel that it brings the community back together. I know that parents love to come and see their children perform, and so I would just love to bring that back as part of an element in our schools.”

She also said that it was not difficult to add the program back into the elementary school curriculum. As the school moves to one-to-one technology, it is no longer necessary for them to schedule specific time in the computer lab because they will use laptops in their regular classroom work. This created an opening for a general music teacher.

“It won’t be traditional coming in and learning about computers during lab time,” Piazza said. “It will look completely different, so we’re excited about adding STEAM Lab to the school as well. We have STEAM because it science, technology, engineer, mathematics, but we put in the arts because we have a commitment to the fine arts.”

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