My sincere hope is that you all had a great summer and that you are prepared to return to the business of educating our young people. It has been very rewarding to follow all of the professional development activities so many of you sought out during these summer months. We have an awesome profession, and I am constantly humbled by, and appreciative of professionals sharing knowledge with each other. It’s definitely one of the things which make our profession so special. Once again, I would like to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to represent and work for you as your President. I will continue to do my best in that capacity, and it has indeed been my pleasure to serve our organization.
Summer Board Meeting
The Governing Board had a very productive meeting in June with a very full agenda. All the represented divisions gave excellent reports concerning the depth and breadth of their respective activities and programs. There are truly some exciting things happening throughout our state. All the divisions are healthy and vibrant, and rest assured that each division is very well represented. You have done an excellent job of electing great representatives in each of our divisions. I am happy to report that our organization is moving forward toward our 75th Anniversary next year in a very strong financial position, and membership numbers are solid. Please talk to your fellow music education colleagues and encourage them to renew their membership in AMEA, or join us if they are not already a member.
Advocacy in Our Nation’s Capitol
The NAfME National Leadership Conference, Collegiate Advocacy Summit, and 2019 Hill Day were June 17th-21st. The AMEA was very well represented by two great teams of music education advocates from our state leadership. While in Washington, DC we were able to meet with representatives from the offices of Senator Doug Jones, Senator Richard Shelby, Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Congresswoman Martha Roby, Congressman Mo Brooks, Congressman Gary Palmer, Congressman Mike Rogers, and Congressman Bradley Byrne for Hill Day. We were even fortunate enough to meet with Congresswoman Martha Roby and Congressman Gary Palmer in person. Thanks to these two Representatives for taking the time to meet with us personally. Our message was well received in all offices as we shared the importance of music education as part of a well-rounded education. We made several requests as part of the goals for the day, both legislative and fiscal. The House and Senate have done a very good job of funding the “Every Student Succeeds Act” through the appropriations process, and all parts of the law are currently being funded for 2020 at significantly higher levels than during the Fiscal Year 2019. We also asked for Legislative support for the “GAAME” Act (Guaranteed Access to Arts and Music Education) while on the Hill this year, which more specifically enumerates how federal funding should be used in support of music education. For specifics on federal appropriations, authorized spending, and all things “ESSA” and “GAAME,” please see the NAfME website. During our meetings, we presented each Senator and Congressperson with a framed copy of our state song and a note from the AMEA as part of our State’s Bicentennial Celebration. During the National Assembly many valuable sessions were presented and information was shared amongst state leaders concerning subjects such as: Country Music
Association Grants, ESSA Title IV (Part A), Strategies for Cultivating New and Emerging Leaders, Governance and Fiduciary Responsibilities, Mentoring: State and National, Connecting with the Fundraising Community, Vision 2020: The Future is Now for NAfME, Shortening the Distance: State, Division, and National Collaboration, Working with Affiliate Organizations, and National Standards Initiatives, amongst other informative and valuable sessions. We were also able to meet with Matt Barusch, NAfME State Advocacy and Engagement Manager, to discuss ideas concerning our own advocacy efforts here in Alabama. Dr. Rob Lyda has been doing a great job heading up these efforts for us and we will all need to be engaged in the process of advocacy.
2020 Professional Development Conference
As you know, we are returning to Montgomery for our 2020 conference this year. Please make plans to attend the conference now, and please plan to stay on site. Congratulations to all the performing groups and presenters who were chosen for our conference this year. We look forward to enjoying your performances and learning from your willingness to share knowledge. I’m super excited to announce that the Low Brass Studio @ UNA under the direction of Dr. Thomas Lukowicz will perform as part of our Keynote Address and General Session on Thursday morning, January 16th at 10:30. Please arrange your travel plans so you are able to attend. We will also have the opportunity to feature the Jacksonville State University Steel Band under the direction of Dr. Thomas McCutchen during the Exhibit Reception on Thursday afternoon, January 16 at 4:30. And finally, the Gadsden State Show Band directed by Dr. Matt Leder will entertain us at the President’s Reception on Friday evening, January 17th at 9:30. Thanks to all these groups for participating in our conference. You definitely won’t want to miss any of these outstanding ensembles from our own state. The Governing Board will be meeting in August to finalize plans for the conference, and I’m looking forward to seeing all of you there. It’s going to be fabulous!
Agenda, Goals, and Celebration
The agenda during my tenure has been driven by the goals of advocacy, action, technology, collegiality, standards, knowledge, and pride. I would like everybody to feel included, important, and crucial to the success of the AMEA. There is no stronger advocacy group than one which is united. We all play a part in the musical education and social development of our young people in Alabama, and I wish for us all to identify as one unified association. One of the main ways we are accomplishing this is through advocacy efforts. I want us to become more visual in our communities, in our State Capitol, and be more culturally relevant to our populous. Let’s all continue to be both visible and vigilant at the local, state, and national levels. All politics is indeed local, so make sure you are in contact with our elected officials on all levels. Invite them to your concerts and other events to let them see that music education is healthy and vibrant in Alabama. Additionally, we will be helping our state celebrate its bicentennial. There are now downloadable PDF arrangements of our state song on the AMEA website which I hope you will program on your various concerts and events this fall. We will also continue with our performances in the State Capitol Rotunda during the spring legislative session. And finally, I can now officially announce that we will be a very vital component of the Bicentennial Celebration and parade on December 14th of this year. Funding has been acquired from the
ALSDE, Bicentennial Commission, and the Travel and Tourism Commission, so look for announcements and information about this event which will be released very soon.
As we move forward into the 2019-20 school year, let’s all commit to finding that first-year teacher, that new person to our state, and our fellow music educators not currently involved in AMEA and invite them to participate. I hope that you all have a great school year with wonderful lessons based on best practices, standards and assessments, and high-quality sequential methodologies. Our students deserve the best that we can do for them. Now let’s get busy educating the young people throughout our beloved state.
Music Education is AWESOME in Alabama!
Gregory L. Gumina