Hello and welcome back to the 2017- 2018 school year! I hope that you each had some time to unwind and regenerate this summer. We all look forward to this time with anticipation and sometimes hesitancy for what the new school year will bring. I realized this summer I went to my 27th year of band camps, as I had the honor of watching and supporting my daughter at the start of her teaching career. I am struck by the similarities and differences of what today’s teachers encounter on a daily basis. There is nothing like the moment of making a difference in a child’s life or watching a lightbulb turn on for the first time. These are the experiences that keep all coming back to school each year.
Many of our members had the opportunity to participate in professional development by taking classes or going to one of the number of camps that are offered around the country this summer. I am inspired by those who take the time to refine their craft taking Orff and Kodály certification classes or attending conducting clinics and summer conferences. Teachers were naturally inquisitive and driven and the summer is our time to grow as musicians and educators – although it usually seems too short!
The AMEA Board has been working diligently to broaden the reach and strengthen the foundation and longevity of our organization. At our meeting in June, this group met to review the activity of the previous year and set our course for the coming year. The first order of business was to welcome our new members who have moved on to the board from several of the divisions. We have budgeted this year for a financial review by a third party for the information and protection of the organization. We are pleased to report the total increase in membership totals – especially in Tri-M. If you are interested in starting a Tri-M Chapter, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a board member for advice or suggestions. This is a great way to advocate for your program through your students.
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We continue to refine our media outreach and member functionality of our website. Http://www.myamea.org is intended to be the unified face of our organization and we appreciate the leadership of Immediate Past President Dr. Carl Hancock in this venture. Keep a lookout for additions to the website as well as a Conference Attendance Justification Kit. Dr. Hancock is creating this valuable resource for distribution to our membership to help justify conference attendance. Another area we have made changes is our exhibitor sign-up for the AMEA Conference. Exhibitors are now able to choose their booth from an interactive map and pay online. This will better serve the needs of our industry partners as well as streamline the process for the AMEA office. Special thanks to Garry Taylor for his leadership in this area of the organization.
The board is currently in discussion to house the AMEA Hall of Fame and other awards at Troy University in the John M. Long School of Music.
Alabama Course of Study
In April, the State Board of Education approved the Alabama Course of Study for Arts Education without any reservations. We appreciate all the AMEA members who worked on this. The next step is to unpack the standards to make them more practical for teachers. AMEA Past President Sara Womack presented to the board the progress of the Course of Study Committee she has chaired. The committee was asked to produce a vehicle for music teachers to make the implementation more practical. AMEA is committed to supporting music teachers by advocating for the development of these tools.
In June, members of your AMEA Board traveled to Washington DC for the annual NAfME National Assembly and Hill Day. AMEA Executive Director Garry Taylor and Assistant Executive Director Dr. Rusty Logan attended meetings on topics germain to running a state MEA. They joined myself, Past President Sara Womack, and Collegiate Secretary Brenton Nash as we visited the offices of Alabama Senators and Representatives. We visited the offices of Senator Shelby and Senator Strange as well as Representatives Sewell, Brooks and Roby. We shared with their educational legislative aides how important full funding of the ESSA law was at the suggested levels that were passed in the bipartisan bill. We discussed the importance of Title I funding and the need for professional development for teachers, especially in those areas where it is not funded by school districts. I was very proud of all the members of our delegation for their passionate advocacy for music education in Alabama. Following Hill Day activities, members attended informational sessions concerning ways to enhance the experience for our membership.
2018 Conference Preview
Much of our meeting in June was spent discussing our move to Birmingham for our annual Professional Development Conference January 18-20, 2018. The new venue will enhance the experience for all at the conference. We will all have a learning curve as we navigate the new venue. The board will do everything we can to make this transition as smooth as possible. We will announce most of our clinics and performing groups in the next Ala Breve. However, we do want to give you a preview by mentioning two of our performing groups. We have invited the Alabama Symphony Orchestra to perform an exciting program on Thursday evening of the conference . We are thrilled to feature Voctave as they perform during Friday’s general session. This Orlando based vocal group has become hugely popular and has multiple YouTube videos with views in the millions. For more information, visit www.voctave.com. You won’t want to miss this!
You can make the difference!
As we start this year, many of us will welcome new colleagues to our state and meet first year teachers. Please take the time to invite them to participate in your division area and become members of AMEA. You may remember being a music department of one person, and how much it meant when an experienced teacher reached out to help or guide. Be the mentor that you needed as a first-year teacher.
If you have ideas for our organization, please get involved. Find a way to give back to a career that gives so much.
Have a great year!
Susan L. Smith