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    Teacher's Fulbright-Hays Scholarship Will Help Eliminate Opportunity Gaps Across the District
    Posted on 05/22/2017
    Image of musical instruments in teacher Jessica Staire's classroom

    Eliminating Opportunity Gaps Through Music Access 

    The news came as a welcome surprise to elementary school teacher Jessica Staire. A letter, from Towson University in Maryland, informed her she was accepted into a Fulbright-Hays Grant Program that will pay her way to Peru this summer where, for six weeks, she will study language and culture, and develop a curriculum to share with students in her classrooms and teachers across Seattle Public Schools.

    Staire teaches music and the arts to hundreds of young students spread across the district. Each week she travels to RoxhillConcord International, and Sanislo Elementary Schools, instructing third graders how to perform West African drumming or second graders how to compose music on the xylophone. Her Fulbright-Hays grant means she will soon be able to give her students much more – culturally responsive access to music.

    Providing access to music and arts education is a social justice issue many schools across the district are working to address. Research reveals student demographics are predictive of arts access while a 2012 National Endowment for the Arts report, “The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth, demonstrates the correlation of student exposure to high levels of arts and better academic outcomes through eliminating opportunity gaps. 

    The curriculum Staire will develop in Peru will focus on unique, music-related strategies to help eliminate opportunity gaps by developing culturally responsive materials to better connect with the students.

     “Students need to see themselves in the curriculum you have,” says Staire. “If a student feels their culture is represented in the classroom they are a lot more prone to be engaged on that material.”

    When we talked with Staire, she was giddy at the thought of soon traveling five thousand miles southeast where she will immerse herself in Peruvian music, food, and day-to-day life. However, she is also equally excited to return home and share much more than just memories made with her students.

    Here is more information on the district’s strategies to eliminate opportunity gaps.