Award ‘sings’ of Cranston’s musical education

Posted 5/3/23

The Cranston Public School District has been recognized as a recipient of the National Association of Music Merchants Best in Music Education Award for the second year in a row.

The award, which …

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Award ‘sings’ of Cranston’s musical education


The Cranston Public School District has been recognized as a recipient of the National Association of Music Merchants Best in Music Education Award for the second year in a row.

The award, which was given to 830 school districts across the country, is given to districts and individual schools that demonstrate, as NAMM says, “outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students, and community leaders and their support for music education as part of a well-rounded education for all children.”

Among the 830 districts and 78 schools that received the award this year, Cranston is the only Rhode Island recipient.

“Music education, as part of a well-rounded education, has never been more important to unleash students’ creativity and supports emotional health and well-being as they build connections through music activities,” shares Mary Luehrsen, Executive Director of The NAMM Foundation. “We applaud the administrators, teachers, and communities who support and sustain music education through a period of intense change and are committed to music education so that all children can explore and express themselves through music.”

Cranston’s Music Program Supervisor and Choir Director for Cranston East Emily Johnson said that she believes one of the reasons the Cranston School District was selected is because of the unique district-wide music program that the city has created.

“We aren’t told why we are chosen over someone else,” Johnson explained. “One thing that I’m really proud of as program supervisor is that I get to write narratives, there’s three of these essays,  about our district and what I think makes us special. What I wrote in this year’s was a lot about district collaboration. Our departments have really pushed to create kind of a OneCranston vibe as opposed to each individual school only having its own music department.”

Johnson said that Cranston started an after-school orchestra program that any secondary student in the district can perform in. She also said that they held a collaborative concert with the Cranston Rotary Club at the Park Theater. Students from both Cranston West and East were involved and performed.

“Our elementary program, which wasn’t a qualification last year but does count this year, we had every single fifth grader who played in band or a stringed instrument on the field at the stadium together,” Johnson said. “In this year’s application I tried to stress and tell them how we’re really working to use music education to bring the community together.”

Last year, Johnson said, was the first time Cranston applied for the award. Schools and districts each year have the opportunity to put themselves up for the award after filling out a rather lengthy application. What programs are available, how many music teachers are in the district and what kinds of special programs are available are a large part of it, but from from the only thing an applicant has to be prepared for.

“To apply for it the first year was a little tough, because it is a big application,” said Johnson. “It was a little bit easier this year to be honest, since I already knew what to expect and what information I needed. I am a teacher. I teach choir classes at the high school every day, but I also oversee the K-12 curriculum program for the district. So we have this position in Cranston where I know enough about the whole district to be able to go through the application process. Not every district has a person like me, or this position, to do that.”

However they’ve done it, the Cranston School Department has demonstrated enough of an effort and focus on music education to receive this recognition.

“There may not be a ceremony, or a physical award, but we’re proud to have Cranston listed among the other districts recognized,” said Johnson.

music, education


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