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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

DEAR PORTSMOUTH RHODE ISLAND TOWN COUNCIL - ABOUT THAT 1.2 MILLION DOLLARS


Yesteryear
1988
Melville Elementary School
Ms. Hammel, Music Teacher
Providing an evening music workshop to parents with their children
to let the parents experience being a music student
along side their children
This Year
I attended a meeting tonight, June 9, 2010, to bring attention to the cut in the Portsmouth Public Schools budget by 1.2 million dollars for the upcoming 2010-2011 school year. This will be a disastrous cut for our community, for our children and education. And the other reason for the meeting was to organize so that we can make an impact on the Portsmouth (Rhode Island) Town Council hearing to be held next Tuesday, June 15, at 7:00 p.m in the Portsmouth Town Hall chamber.

The state of Rhode Island is cutting educational aid funding to communities and if we don't pick up the slack, the children's education will be greatly diminished. This is nothing new. I have seen this happen starting when I was in college and the administration decided to eliminate the thriving music department. Then at the contractual March 1st deadline to send out "pick slips" (termination of employment) in my second year of teaching, I received my pink slip. And this, then, began a career-long effort to keep music in our schools.

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Uploaded by jmcdaid
June 2, 2010 Budget workshop at which the Town Council voted to tentatively cut $1.2 Million from the Portsmouth Public School proposed budget. Councilor Karen Gleason speaks to Superintendent of Schools Susan Lusi when she is asked to speak about the budget.

SCREAM NOW OR SCREAM LATER
NOW, WILL BE THE EASIER SCREAM

If parents don't "scream" every time this "slash and burn the education" is in the cards, the whole education system will fail. And when we have practices of firing entire teaching staffs as was the case in one Rhode Island town this year, because of low performances of the students, I would like to ask what we expect to happen when we can't get a grip of civility and find funding for the students of today?


Town Council Members of Portsmouth, Rhode Island

Town Council email addresses:
pmcintyre@portsmouthri.com, hlittle@portsmouthri.com, kgleason@portsmouthri.com, khamilton@portsmouthri.com, jplumb@portsmouthri.com, dcanario@portsmouthri.com, jseveney@portsmouthri.com

More contact information can be found here:
http://www.portsmouthri.com/frames.htm

Contractually all pink slips had to go out in March, so legally cutting more teachers isn't going to work. And the state mandates that the students get the arts, so what they will get is a "spit in the eye" of music, art and physical education most likely. It is hard to water down music in a schedule, for example, that has traditionally only taught music to elementary students once a week for less than an hour. You try teaching something or learning something that you have for 45 minutes or less a week. And the other cut likely is sports. As Ms. Leveque said at the meeting at the Portsmouth Middle School June 9th, it isn't like we can cut second grade.
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Uploaded by jmcdaid






Melville Peter Deffet as a 3rd Grader


Parents forming an excellent train for the song
Little Black Train


My letter sent to the Portsmouth Town Council and copied to the Portsmouth School Committee:

June 9, 2010

Dear Member of the Portsmouth Town Council,

My name is Sandra Hammel, live in Portsmouth, taught music in the Portsmouth Public Schools starting in October 1973 and left after 29 years. All those years I stood up to keep music in our community's schools, attending many School Committee and Town Council meetings and going out on a limb to preserve the minimum of giving the students a weekly music class at the elementary level. Minimum. Music classes should be every day. Music skills are those very skills that the very young benefit from because they develop and nurture the readiness skills needed to learn to read - auditory processing skills, such as auditory awareness, auditory memory, auditory figure ground, auditory discrimination, etc.

A quick google search brought this up:http://www.succeedtoread.com/auditoryskills.html
"A common weakness is in auditory discrimination skills. For example, many poor readers do not 'hear' differences in letter sounds. To them, the five short vowels sound almost exactly alike." Music lessons develop the abilities of the child to better discriminate differences of sound and therefore helps the child be more successful not only in the music classroom, but in the reading lessons. This is not "new" news, but well accepted for multiple years. However, many even who should know these things, don't. Oftentimes, teenagers who drop out of high school, do so because they have struggled with their reading skills which affect so many of the subjects required in high school. So if we are serious about keeping our students in school until they graduate this should be on our radar screen of what is a priority.

And rationalizing of the inclusion of music in our schools using this argument isn't the only reason for music's existence in our community's schools. Because this doesn't begin to express what is so advantageous from the standpoint of music's benefits itself. Music can stand on its own as reason enough to be part of the basics of education, although most people may not realize those reasons. But when tied to other subjects it seems to enable people to say, "Hey, well, maybe it is justifiable to include in the discourse of what should be included in the experience of our children's lives."

All the years I taught in Portsmouth Schools, I had no children going to the Portsmouth Public Schools because I had no children. That changed late in my teaching career because a young boy entered Hathaway Elementary School in the second grade who was in foster care. That boy has been my son since his fourth grade year and now is an exceptional engineering student at Northeastern University. I have no students in the Portsmouth Schools at this time. So, I speak now as a taxpayer who pays for others' children to have what they need. I care about the community. I care about the children in our community and the education that we as a community provide for the children.

I speak about music here. But, the Portsmouth Town Council members who voted to cut the Portsmouth Public School budget over a million dollars will necessitate cutting more than music from the schools. I say "You are wrong to do this". I am well aware how these things go. And I know that those who feel brave enough to cut the Portsmouth School budget have their supporters.

Even some of those who feel emboldened to cut, can step back, reconsider and make a braver decision and fund our schools. There will never be a day that this problem goes away. We just need to get smarter about how we are going to get through this immediate year's budget problem, but then get really smart and figure out ways to get ourselves a long range solution in action to thwart future years' similar dilemma. If we care.

There is no better investment that we can give ourselves as a community, than the education that we provide for our community's children. They are our future leaders. They are their future.

Sincerely,


Sandra Hammel

Learn more about auditory discrimination and reading abilities: http://www.healthofchildren.com/A/Auditory-Discrimination-Test.html




Sandra Hammel
Teaching an evening music workshop for parents and their children
Melville Elemenary School




Save Our Schools

or Portsmouth will be the Pits regarding Education
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Uploaded by PortsmouthSchools
June 2, 2010 Portsmouth RI School Department Budget Meeting
Part 1

First video of last week's town council/school committee budget workshop. There are 13 separate videos. The 1st one starts out discussing the open space/recreation bonds, but ends with Dr. Lusi presenting the FY 2011 budget.

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Uploaded by PortsmouthSchools
June 2, 2010 Portsmouth RI School Department Budget Meeting
Part 2
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Arguing
Part 11
Motion to "Level Fund"
Uploaded by PortsmouthSchools

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Tribute to influential teachers
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The North Central College Choir that I sang in
Uploaded by ilovemylifesblog

In honor of Paul Warren Allen, who was the head of the North Central College Music Department and Conductor of the North Central College Choir recorded here in 1968. Three years later the college eliminated the music department.

Other songs from this album uploaded
It's May
The Eyes of All Wait Upon Thee

A tribute blog post with the choir roster and more:
its-may-robert-schumanns-art-song-

A blot post - IN HONOR OF PAUL WARREN ALLEN
in-honor-of-paul-warren-allen

I talked to Professor Paul Warren Allen's daughter in January 2010.
He is 96 years old.

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Uploaded by
rockstarwrangler
Susan Werner sings May I Suggest?

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2 Comments:

At November 5, 2010 at 2:53:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Catherine M. Evans said...

Paul Warren Allen was my teacher, our Choral Director, at East Aurora High School, Illinois. In 1976 I was the Secretary of the choir. I was also the President of Orchestra.

A funny story on the way I join the choir.

I saw a spiritual gift in him that I had to have, so I jumped the fence, so to speak. I did not have an audition and my friend did. So at the last minute when she changed her mind, I traded computer cards with her. I got the class, but was not on his list. He let me stay, later naming me a rascal and saying I sang well enough not to have an audition.

Here is something I wrote in an old book I have:

6/4/76

Dear Mr. Paul Warren Allen,

I love you. You are an extremely blessed person. You have inspired my position as a musician greatly.

Lots of memories,

Cathy

--
I played viola in the orchestras that he and his wife Eleanor hosted for choral events. My recent coaching of a 5th grade violinist included "keep looking up" remembering his saying that to us regularly.

Teachers have profound effects and affects on the future for generations.

Catherine (Kay) M. Evans nee Laity

 
At November 5, 2010 at 3:10:00 PM EDT , Blogger ilovemylife said...

Catherine,

I love your story about getting into the choir. Your friend missed a great master and you didn't.

This is such a lovely "tribute" that you have shared here. I wish I knew how Prof Allen is today. He was not doing well when I talked to his daughter.

I am currently working on another video that will include another song from the album we made at North Central College in 1968. I did not know that he taught high school after he lost his job at North Central College as the head of the music department when they eliminated it. His daughter never mentioned it. She only told me he sold real estate, which made me so sad because of his gifts of music. As I work on making the videos with the music he directed at NCC on the record, I realize how extraordianary his direction was.

Thanks for your beautiful words about Paul Warren Allen.

A thing that he said to us at NCC was - "...sing it at the right time".

And you are so right ~ "Teachers have profound effects and affects on the future for generations.

You made my day. Sandra Hammel

 

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