AMEA: Continuing to move forward while embracing our history and traditions

Susan Smith
I am honored to write my first article for the Ala Breve as the President of AMEA. It is an honor and privilege to serve and support those who have chosen teaching music as their life’s work. I would like to share some of the goals for the next two years of our organization and hope you will join me in our forward movement while embracing our history and traditions.

1. Build Bridges
As music teachers we are often the only arts teacher in our building or department, so it is vital to the longevity of our careers and discipline that we reach to other divisions for additional support and shared resources. While President, I hope to reinforce these connections between divisions and teachers as well as our community at large. Our discipline is supported by music vendors for the resources we need to teach students in our classrooms. We rely on our music industry colleagues to make our conferences and student events possible. Our relationships with those partners is very important to the success AMEA. We will look to embrace, expand and reinforce those partnerships over the coming years.

2. Encourage and Support Teachers
In a world where arts educators and teachers in general seem to be lacking support and resources for continuing development, it is my hope we will work to encourage and support new and veteran teachers. I will work to reach and serve the under- represented populations of AMEA and support the involvement of all. Leadership potential identification and mentoring are an important part of what our organization can bring to our community at large. We all want AMEA to be vital and robust in its mission. I believe we will succeed with involvement from a variety of people from every size and type of school.

3. Plan for the Future
We will continue to review and revise our documents, bylaws, and procedures for maximum efficiency and transparency as we build upon the strong foundation of our organization. We will update our strategic plan every two years revisiting our path as an organization. We have moved forward with the plans to hire an Assistant Executive Director. We welcome Mildred Lanier in this position after an exhaustive search and know she will bring much to the organization. I really don’t think any of us can fully appreciate what Garry Taylor does for AMEA and I am pleased we will be able to give him the support needed to make the conference run smoothly. I have also called on each division to continue to look past “what we have always done” to “what we would like our organizations to look like and be able to do?”

4. Recognize and Encourage Success
Our state has wonderful music teachers who make an impact on our communities, schools, and students. I believe it is the responsibility of AMEA to promote and recognize those in our organization for their longevity and those who are making an impact on our discipline on a regional and national level. We will refine our awards for membership to better highlight those who have served as well as add awards for programs and teachers who strive to the highest levels of performance and education.

In June, the AMEA leadership team traveled to Washington DC for the NAfME Hill Day and National Assembly June 22 – 25, 2016. Greg Gumina, Sara Womack, Savannah Smith, Latrice Green, and I met with representatives from Senator Shelby’s and Senator Sessions’ offices as well as those from Congresswoman Roby, Congresswoman Sewell and Congressman Gary Powell. It is very moving to have the chance to come together with other state MEA organizations to meet with our elected officials and tell them about the great things music teachers do for the students of Alabama.

One of the main items discussed with the legislators was the funding of the Every Child Succeeds Act and how important it was for all students in our state. For the first time, funds will be available through your localities for music education as a part of a well- rounded education. It is very important that each of us gets involved with the decisions on funding at the local school board level.

In summary, one of the wonderful parts of beginning a new school year is the clean slate we start with literally and figuratively. We can change the things we thought ineffective from the previous year and we can highlight what we have found to be successful teaching tools. I hope you will try to find a mentor teacher to help if you are new to the profession. If you are experienced, I hope you will take the time to help a younger teacher. We have the best jobs in the best country in the world. Take time to make a positive impact on other teachers as well as your students. Any and all suggestions for AMEA are appreciated and encouraged. Please feel free to email any of the board if we can help you in any way.

Have a great year!