The local school system is among 583 districts nationwide and 17 in Michigan to receive the national recognition.
According to a press release for 2018 Best Communities for Music Education, the program recognizes “the outstanding efforts of teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders who have made music education part of the curriculum.”
Spring Lake has received the recognition every year since 2015.
“Music is an essential part of life, and we couldn’t be prouder of the students, parents and teachers in our community who recognize that the cognitive, social and behavioral benefits of music education are designed to last a lifetime,” said Rebecca Kaufman, a music specialist at Jeffers Elementary School.
To qualify for the designation, the school district answered questions about graduation requirements, funding, instruction time, music class participation, facilities, support for music programs and community music programs.
Nancy Ireland, a music specialist at Holmes Elementary School and Spring Lake Intermediate School, said it’s thrilling to receive the national recognition. She attributed the district’s success to having talented and dedicated music staff and administrative support.
Kaufman said the district remains committed to keeping music education as part of its core curriculum as the state implemented the Every Student Succeeds Act in the 2018-19 school year. She also said they’re grateful for support from the schools’ parents, booster groups and community.
By participating in the Spring Lake district’s music program, Ireland said students learn how to “read and interpret the language of music.”
“They learn to be a valuable member of a team,” she said. “They experience what it is to be human.”
Research about music education shows there are social skills and educational and cognitive benefits for children who are involved in music, Kaufman noted. She said studies link students in community music programs to academic success, which includes higher graduation rates from high school and post-secondary attendance.
“It was also discovered that the benefits of early exposure to music education improves how the brain processes information and assimilates sounds, a trait that lasts well into adulthood,” Kaufman said. “Music education lays the foundation for individual excellence in group settings, creative problem solving and flexibility in work situations, as well as learning how to give and receive constructive criticism to excel.”
Superintendent Dennis Furton noted the timely recognition given the Spring Lake Schools Foundation’s Shindig next weekend, which will raise money to support the district’s arts education. The sixth annual event will take place 6:30-10:30 p.m. Saturday, April 28, at Spring Lake Country Club. Tickets can be purchased online at www.slsfoundation.org/the-shindig.