The law firm of Logan-Thompson has supported grants at Arnold Memorial and North Lee elementary schools through a gift to the Bradley/Cleveland Public Education Foundation.
“The generosity of the partners in this firm will reach every student within these two schools,” said Lynn Voelz, executive director of the foundation.
It was the desire of the donors to honor principals Kellye Bender (Arnold) and Nat Akiona (North Lee) while enabling the music teachers to add a dimension to their instruction reaching beyond the classrooms.
For Nationally Board Certified music teacher Siema Swartzel, Arnold’s beautiful auditorium has been the stimulus for her creative direction two years running. With a foundation grant last year, her students built dulcimers and then performed in concert with a master dulcimer artist to the accolades of a packed house.
This year her students will form a “Trash Can Band” and the budding musicians will perform for an eager audience, including the generous donors from Logan-Thompson, at an early spring concert.
The fifth-grade students said they learned rhythm, beat and cooperation. They also learned how rhythms correlate with math, an unexpected bonus for their academic studies.
Swartzel maintains that this experience brings out the best in her pupils.
“They love to learn, love to create, and then love to perform. It is an expanding experience they are unlikely to have outside of this classroom.”
Walker Valley assistant band director Colby Burris and Ocoee Middle School band director Brian Gallaher assisted with the composition and teaching. Lee University student teacher Gaius Ponto is also assisting Swartzel on a daily basis this semester.
At North Lee Elementary School, music teacher Sandy Donegan is challenged with her $200 budget each year to purchase enough supplies for the 500 students who rotate through her music classes.
“The grant is an amazing blessing,” she reported. “Without it I’d be spending my own money or have too few instruments for the children in my classes. I am so grateful to the foundation and these generous donors.”
The Orff instruments, purchased through this grant, challenged the children to learn basic musical concepts and skills, such as notation, steady beat and improvisation.
Carl Orff, a composer and educator, had a heart for allowing all children to experience music.
“He developed an approach which includes pitched instruments such as these xylophones,” said Donegan. “The students have already learned to play several songs on the instruments and are proud to demonstrate their newly learned skills.”
Robert Thompson, a trustee of the Bradley/Cleveland Public Education Foundation, said that giving through this organization assures his team that the contribution will be used exactly as intended. “The foundation’s only mission is to support the teachers and students of our community. The process for awarding grants is disciplined, objective and relates directly to the school and system improvement plans. When we give through the foundation, we know our gift will have a long-lasting impact on a classroom and on the children of our community,” he said.
“All the members of the Logan-Thompson firm have a commitment to make our community stronger, a better place for family life. Their gift supports our local students and classrooms, contributing to the quality of education provided. Ultimately, we all benefit from their generosity, ” Voelz said.