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Junior High School

  • UpClose: Michael Echols and Chris Moore

    Mike Lawson | September 17, 2014

    Cultivating Grit and Stoutheartedness

    Significant achievements rarely happen without significant investment. While this may be particularly obvious within the music education community, where it’s a given that quality performance doesn’t happen without an investment in time, energy, focus, and commitment, a team of educators in Springdale, Arkansas has taken the concept of investment to a whole new level.

    Michael Echols and Christopher Moore are the band directors at George Junior High School, a school with some 620 eighth and ninth graders, about 500 of whom participate in the school’s music offerings. Over the past decade or so, the vibrant population in Springdale that feeds George Junior High and nearby Kelly Middle School has been struggling economically. Some parents have been put out of work, and with the many newcomers to this country in the area, – GJHS hosts a program for students arriving in the U.S. for the first time –  others did not have the standard credit cards, bank accounts, or social security numbers needed to carry on normal business practices.

    Eventually, it became evident that students and their families were largely unable to purchase instruments. Faced with watching their program slip through their fingers, Mike and Chris realized that in order to keep the program going, they would have to buy used musical instruments themselves so they could then put them in the hands of their students. Daniel Hodge, the band director at Springdale High School, described their efforts as “literally putting the band program on their backs to allow the students the opportunity to succeed.”

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