AMEA: From the President’s Desk

Hello AMEA!

I trust that you all had a great summer, and that you are ready to get back to the work of educating our young people. It has been exciting to follow all of the professional development activities that so many of you have been involved in through the summer months, and I consider myself very fortunate to be amongst such consummate professionals in our most excellent profession. I want to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to represent and work for you as your President for the next two years. I will endeavor to do my best in that capacity and I look forward to the work we will do together.

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 both healthy and vibrant, and rest assured that each division is very well represented. I am happy to report that our organization is moving forward toward our 75th Anniversary in a strong financial position and membership numbers are solid. While active membership decreased a little last year, overall membership grew by 145 due to the growth of Tri-M. Way to go Tri-M! Membership numbers in fact remain in line with recent trends and history, but let’s do our best to grow the organization. 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 68th NAfME National Leadership Conference, Collegiate Advocacy Summit, and 2018 Hill Day was June 26th-30th. Representing Alabama besides myself were AMEA Executive Director and Editor Garry Taylor, AMEA Immediate Past-President Susan Smith, AMEA President-Elect David Raney, NAfME Chair of the Council for General Music Education Dr. Rob Lyda, and AMEA Collegiate Division President-Elect DeLee Benton. While in Washington, DC we were able to meet with representatives from the offices of Senator Doug Jones, Senator Richard Shelby, Congresswoman Terri Sewell, and Congressman Bradley Byrne for Hill Day. Our message was well received in all offices as we shared the importance of music education in a well-rounded education. We made several requests as part of the goals for the day, both legislative and fiscal. This 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 being funded for 2019 at significantly higher levels than during Fiscal Year 2018. For specifics on Federal appropriations, authorized spending, and all things “ESSA,” please see the NAfME website. During the National Assembly many valuable sessions were presented and information was shared amongst state leaders concerning subjects such as: Position and Mission Statements, Crisis Management, Finding and Nurturing Leaders, Coalitions at the National and State Level, Budgeting, Legal Issues, Technology, Diversity, Governance, Federal Funding, and Ethics.

2019 Professional Development Conference
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room and immediately get it out of the way. Registration was a major concern at our 2018 Conference. The root cause of this problem was an issue with the NAfME Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, and our Registrar Pat Stegall, along with our AMEA Governing Board is determined to solve this for our members. In fact, we will not be using that CRM this year in order to expedite the registration process. However, the best way to mitigate this risk is to pre-register for the conference online and avoid the issue completely.

I am excited to announce that our Keynote Speaker will be Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser, who will also be conducting a clinic session on beginning band. This year is also an Intercollegiate Band year, and we are excited to have Dr. Lowell Graham from UTEP as the conductor. We had a record number of performance applications this year and I am also proud to announce that we will be featuring more of our own students’ and teachers’ efforts at this year’s conference through some adjustments in the schedule and planning. As you know, we are returning to Birmingham for the conference this year. We will be using the BJCC Theater as our meeting space and large concert venue which will fit our events perfectly. Please make plans to attend the conference now, and plan on staying on site. The interstate highway system in Birmingham will still be significantly under construction at the time of our conference and you won’t want that impeding on your enjoyment of the conference. In addition to all the performances of our colleagues and their ensembles, there are going to be some fantastic clinics and sessions. I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

Agenda and Goals
My agenda over the next two years will be 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 will accomplish 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. We will accomplish this in many ways. In addition to the standing committees spelled out in the by-laws, I am forming ad hoc committees as part of the the President’s Cabinet. The committees will be tasked with studying issues and sharing their findings with the organization. Additionally, we will be helping our state celebrate its bicentennial. There will soon be downloadable PDF arrangements of our state song on the AMEA website which I hope you will program on your various concerts and events. We will also continue with our performances in the State Capitol Rotunda during the spring legislative session. And finally, we will be a very vital component of the celebration and parade on December 14th, 2019.

Thanks and Moving Forward
Please join me in thanking Susan Smith for her leadership as President of the AMEA over the past two years. Susan is a tireless advocate for our profession and our students. Thank you so much Susan for your dedicated service to our organization. As we move forward into the 2018-19 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. My sincere wish is that you all have a great school year. Now let’s get busy educating our young people throughout our beloved State.

Have a Great Year!

Gregory L. Gumina, President