Tiffany English, facilitator; Panel members: Robin Gillespie, Sally Sandoval, RJ Routan, David DuBose,

Tiffany welcomed everyone and introduced the four speakers. Each speaker then shared personal stories and experiences.

Robin Gillespie spoke from her heart about her father. She acknowledged that Avon was blessed with gifts from both his mother and his father. From his mother came his skills as an educator. Avon’s mother was a long line of strong, wonderful women. His father was a singer and actor. It was from his father that he was blessed with his gift of music. It was clear Robin felt deeply connected with her father during her time here at the conference. Avon’s life was in his music. She conveyed that we all have the power that her father had: each one of us has the ability to make a difference but it is up to each of one of us to take the first step.

Sally Sandoval, Chair of the Diversity Committee, shared her experience learning directly from AOSA. She thanked Judith Barthwell for opening doors to multicultural music within the association. It was the mission of this committee to be culturally responsive to other cultures and to attract greater diversity to AOSA’s membership. This committee evolved into what is now the Diversity Subcommittee.

Lorelei Batislong, public school teacher and former NBT member, shared her research on diversity as part of her doctoral work. Her research is focused on examining, encouraging, acknowledging and including diverse voices. She shared data from her research on diversity in the field of education. In her closing comments she encouraged the following messages:

  • All members need to assume responsibility in creating a sense of acceptance and belonging
  • We need to engender accountability by talking to board representatives and chapter leaders
  • AOSA and chapters need to sustain communication by sharing chapter news and actions that are working to attract and maintain diversity.

IJ Routan’s school district was the recipient of the Federal Professional Development for Arts Educators Grant for Music Educators. She shared how the grant influenced music programming, equipment acquisition, education and professional development for music teachers in her district in Little Rock Arkansas. While Little Rock no longer is the recipient of these funds, the grant money has had a lasting effect on the students and music teachers in Little Rock. This Federal grant still exists and IJ encouraged members to seek out monies from this grant and to feel free to contact her for more information. IJ also identified that money is a great barrier to teachers of color. Monies are out there – at federal, state and local level. Go find it and apply for it. Seek money for instruments and training. It will make the world of difference.

David DuBose, Director of Fine Arts, Gwinnett County School District, Georgia, spoke about overseeing a Fine Arts Program with 87 elementary music teachers in Gwinett County, Georgia. He noticed, through his observations of teachers, that Orff was the common thread in teachers of excellence. The mission of the music program is to ensure a program of excellence, with diverse perspectives represented, which prepare students for college and life long music making. Levels training is now offered within the district free of charge for their teachers. They also buy  instruments, as funds are available. The opportunity for free levels training has become a recruitment tool for hiring.

Tiffany thanked our panelists and opened the floor for questions and discussion.

Doug Goodkin inquired about the Gillespie/Sheilds scholarships and proposed ways to seek monetary donations.

Alice Pratt – Reiterated the Robin Gillespie’s words: “Individual having the power to make a difference.” She acknowledged the two administrators on the panel and the power difference they made in bringing the Schulwerk to a large body of music teacher/educators in their districts. It is our responsibility to make noise and bring about change.

It was mentioned that scholarships, grants and other various monies are available through AOSA but may need to be actively advertised on the website. Several chapters also offer scholarships monies and this too, needs to be clearly communicated to members. A question was raised about the requirement of being a member for a complete year to be eligible for scholarship money.