From the President
I am very honored to be trusted with the task of leading the AVA over the next two years. After serving for six years on the AVA Board, I have identified some areas that I believe could use our attention. In this column I would like to discuss three of them: increasing our efficiency through the use of technology, focusing our mission statement, and reaching out to our membership.
I am very pleased to continue Carl Davis’ initiative to move our organization forward in its use of technologies that facilitate record keeping, registering for events, and communicating with our membership. We have tested several of these technologies over the past few years and feel confident that this is a time to move away from paper notifications and “snail-mail” and make use of the technology that is available to us.
In an effort to increase efficiency and reduce costs, we will be moving more of our communications from hard copy to electronic format. This year, we will e-mail most newsletters and correspondence, including All-State notification letters. We will continue to use tools like Vertical Response to send e-mails to our membership. We will continue to require registration with the AVA database so that we are sure to have your preferred e-mail address on file. We will also use Remind, a communication tool that will allow you to receive reminders of deadlines and other notifications via text message. You can join the AVA Member Remind group now by texting @avadir to 81010.
This year, registration for every AVA event will be available online. Our Executive Secretary/Webmaster is working diligently to have all of these forms ready for us by the beginning of the school year. The AVA Board has been testing the new forms and feedback is overall very positive. We think that you will find them to be very user friendly. However, we realize that with the move to any new technology there will be a learning curve. We will have a short session on using the new forms at our Fall Workshop. You may also reach out to any of the AVA Board members if you have difficulty when using the new forms.
Moving forward, we hope to find other ways that we can use technology to increase our efficiency. The AVA Board has already begun to explore the potential to reduce our All-State audition expenses through the use of various recording technologies. We welcome your input and ideas in this area.
According to our handbook, the mission of the AVA is to provide a variety of educational experiences for students that will encourage their lifetime appreciation of and participation in the art of choral music. Our goals include promoting cooperation among choral directors in Alabama, enhancing the programs of vocal music in schools in Alabama, providing a means for professional ideas and methods to be shared, and promoting growth and higher standards in music education throughout the state.
In my personal and professional life, I constantly strive to do what I say I am going to do. I do not always succeed. However, it is a goal that I keep in the forefront of my mind because I want to be a person of integrity. As an organization, I believe that we must also do what we say we are going to do. Over the past six years of service to AVA, I have often wondered if we are truly following our mission statement and accomplishing the goals we have made. Do our events and services carry out the mission that we have identified or are we just doing what has always been done? Are there other things that we could be doing instead to better accomplish these goals? Please do not misunderstand me. I firmly believe in the value of many of the things that we do as an organization. But, if we do not occasionally pause to think about what we are doing and why we are doing it, we run the risk of becoming an organization that exists only to perpetuate itself. I would like to challenge you to identify areas where we can improve. Your ideas are always welcome.
There will be no way that we can fulfill our mission of serving the students in Alabama if we do not reach the teachers. Teachers are our connection to the students. A recent study identified several reasons why Alabama teachers do not participate in AVA events. While many of these circumstances are out of our control, we can do a better job of connecting with our teachers who may be new, struggling, or isolated. Some of our ideas include:
=Continuing the New Teacher Luncheon at Fall Workshop
=Reduced Fall Workshop registration fee for first-year teachers
=Free Fall Workshop registration for veteran teachers who have not attended in the past 3 years
=Free event registration for schools that have not participated in recent years
=Adjusting our performance assessment guidelines to give more adjudication options at SCPA
If you have ideas for other ways that we can connect with teachers who may be new, struggling, or isolated, please let us know. Your feedback is appreciated.
Our Fall Workshop will be held September 9th at First United Methodist Church in Montgomery. Dr. Jeffery Redding, who will also serve as our High School SATB All-State clinician, will present two interest sessions and a reading session. Dr. Andrew Minear, new choral director at UA, will also present a session. We will spend time reading the All-State music, meet briefly with our districts, and answer any questions about online registration forms. JW Pepper will be there to sell All-State music. Register online by visiting www.alavocal.org. Please attend and encourage others to attend as well.
Thank you for taking to the time to read about your professional association. Please send questions, suggestions, or ideas to me at email@example.com. Your feedback is always appreciated. Have a great start to your school year!