For the third year, Burrell School District has won prestigious recognition for its exemplary music education program, which is offered to students at every level.
“The dedication of our staff and their willingness to try new things speaks volumes about the music staff that we have,” Burrell music educator Brian Querry said. “Also, our students are willing to give 110% in all they do, not only within our programs but in areas outside of the programs that extend what they do into other areas of life.”
Burrell School District was among 623 districts from across the nation recognized by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation as the Best Communities for Music Education for 2019.
Each year, the foundation bestows the designation on those districts and schools that demonstrate an exceptionally high commitment and access to music education, according to a new release. The recognition is designed to encompass efforts contributed by teachers, administrators, parents, students, and community leaders who have made music education part of a well-rounded education. Burrell also was listed in 2018 and 2017.
“The continuous recognition shows that the district continues to make the arts a focus, through funding, time and other support,” Querry said. “Student involvement in arts activities is on the rise, and new opportunities are being created annually.”
Music education is offered to every student in kindergarten through middle school. At the high school, students can partake of musical ensembles and music theory and popular music courses.
Under the direction of the soon-retiring Francine Corsi, the choral ensembles have sent students to numerous festivals and received invitations to perform at many events in the region throughout the years. Similarly, Michael Pagnotta has led the high school band to excellence in competition, receiving consistently high ratings.
Districts given the Best Communities designation are also considered for their professional development, which is valued within the Burrell music program. Most recently, the staff attended the PMEA/NAfME All-Eastern Conference in Pittsburgh in April and participated in workshops and other activities.
“After the conference, we’ve discussed how we can incorporate some of what we learned and have found many strategies to include in our classrooms and ensembles for next year,” Querry said.
He and other music educators believe the goal of their program “should not be to produce just high-quality musicians but to produce wonderful music consumers.” They seek to teach students about all styles of music by providing them with instruction and experiences that will help them appreciate music as much as possible. Additionally, the district’s Burrell Arts and Music, or BAM, Night – attendance at which is generally in the thousands – has been a catalyst for sharing the students’ work with the community.
“Music is all around us and is a part of everyone’s daily lives,” Querry said, adding the district is honored to have been recognized for the third year and hopes to “continue to uphold the standard of excellence that we feel we have set for the Burrell music program.”