Chartiers Valley honored for commitment to music education
Students in Chartiers Valley School District have the opportunity to take music classes from the time they start school until the time they leave.
Now, the district is being recognized for its inclusive K-12 program, as the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation (NAMM) named the district as one of the “Best Communities for Music Education.”
“For me personally, it validates the fact that we do have a good program,” said Sally Shollenberger, director of middle school and high school orchestras. “It helps us to stand out as a school of music excellence.”
But that’s something Shollenberger, who graduated from Chartiers Valley, has known all along. That’s why she came back to teach there, to continue the legacy of great music programs and leave one of her own.
“I love what I do. I love my kids,” she said.
Chartiers Valley’s music program includes 100% participation for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade, Shollenberger said. Chorus starts in third grade and band in fourth.
In the middle school and high school, there are between 350 and 400 students in the band program.
But it’s not just about music, Shollenberger stresses. A good music education program helps a child to develop better cognitive skills, she said.
You’ll find a child who learns music will be better with math, Shollenberger said. They’re learning teamwork and becoming “well rounded.” It affects every aspect of life, she said.
“If you want your child on the cutting edge of life, they need to be in music,” Shollenberger said. “Music does not live in a bubble.”
This is the first year Chartiers Valley has been recognized as one of NAMM’s Best Communities for Music Education.
Superintendent Johannah Vanatta recommended the district seek out the designation, Shollenberger said.
To qualify, the district had to answer detailed questions about funding, participation, instruction time and graduation requirements, she said.
The honor is given to “schools and school districts for outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders and their support for music education as part of the core curriculum,” according to NAMM’s website.
This year, 623 school districts in 41 states were recognized. That includes 92 districts in Pennsylvania, according to a press release from the state Department of Education. Other districts in the region that were named include Baldwin-Whitehall, Fox Chapel, Moon, Mt. Lebanon, North Hills, North Allegheny, Quaker Valley and Upper St. Clair.