Orange County Public Schools has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to provide music access and education to all students. This is the fourth year in a row that OCPS has earned this distinctive nationwide honor.
“We are so pleased that NAMM is recognizing our dedication to music education for the fourth year in a row,” said OCPS Superintendent Barbara Jenkins. “Our school board remains committed to providing arts education to 100% of our students, even during the pandemic. We have actually enhanced innovative offerings in conjunction with our community partners.”
In fact, the Orlando/Orange County community has teamed up with local and national celebrities for a social media movement to celebrate the Arts and to remind students and parents that the Orange County arts classroom is absolutely The Place For You! As Florida public schools return to full face-to-face instruction for the 2021-2022 school year, it’s important that students reconnect with their arts families and experience the social and emotional benefits associated with arts education.
“Here in Orange County Public Schools, we know what the studies show about a well-rounded arts education: students have higher test scores, higher GPA’s, and students involved in arts courses have a lower rate of dropping out, and these statistics extend across socio-economic boundaries, race, and students with disabilities,” explained Scott Evans, Senior Director of Visual and Performing Arts for Orange County Public Schools.
In a series of personalized videos, national superstars with roots in Orlando like Michael James Scott, who played the beloved “Genie” in Aladdin on Broadway, join with local celebrities like Sophia Deler, a recent graduate of OCPS and star of the recent Netflix hit “The Prom,” to encourage students to get involved in Arts courses in their schools.
Local arts organizations are in on it, too: artists from Creative City Project, The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Mad Cow Theatre, Renaissance Theatre Company, and others will all take to social media to promote #OCPSArts as The Place For You! Students, teachers, and other members of the community will be encouraged to create and post their own videos as well.
Cole NeSmith, Executive Director of Creative City Project, immediately joined this initiative: “I’m a graduate of OCPS—I went to Boone High School—and the arts are my life. I know what the social benefits of collaborating with other people to create a work of art can do for a person; it’s life-changing. And we want to make sure our local students are taking advantage of that.”
Celebrity videos touting arts classes as The Place For You! hit screens this month. “We hope this becomes a movement,” said the project’s Coordinator Donald Rupe, who is also the Artistic Director of Renaissance Theatre Company. “We want people to share their own stories and tell the world what their arts education has meant to them, whether they became professional artists or not. The arts classroom truly is the place for everyone.”
According to NAMM, research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music: After two years of music education, researchers found that participants showed more substantial improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores than their less-involved peers and that students who are involved in music are not only more likely to graduate high school, but also to attend college as well. Everyday listening skills are stronger in musically trained children than in those without music training. Significantly, listening skills are closely tied to the ability to: perceive speech in a noisy background, pay attention, and keep sounds in memory. Later in life, individuals who took music lessons as children show stronger neural processing of sound: young adults and even older adults who have not played an instrument for up to 50 years show enhanced neural processing compared to their peers. Not to mention, social benefits include conflict resolution, teamwork skills, and how to give and receive constructive criticism.