As part of an ongoing collaboration, The Johnny Mercer Foundation (JMF), in partnership with Florida International University’s School of Music (FIU), recently hosted a workshop titled “Enriching Your Language Arts and Music Program Through Lyric Writing” at ARTS@FIU Day. The second of these joint ventures designed to enrich music education in Miami-Dade county schools, the Accentuate The Positive (ATP) workshop focused on developing innovative educational opportunities, delivering high-quality instructional materials, and providing professional development opportunities for local music and language arts teachers.
Among those in attendance were the four FIU graduate students pursuing a Master’s in music education through scholarships awarded by JMF — Oliver Diez, Ryan Ellis, Kadhine Gonzalez, and William Jenkins. They are extending the existing curriculum and writing new programs based on the life and works of Johnny Mercer. The fellows are working teachers in the Miami-Dade Public School District at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, overseeing classrooms which are a microcosm of the world-wide diversity present in our area.
Over 12,000 JMF supplemental student activity guides were distributed to the 150 music teachers in attendance, providing invaluable material for instruction and curriculum development in music education. According to Bryan Petorak, the District Supervisor for Performing Arts for the MDCPS, “as the 4th largest school system in the U.S., partnering with outstanding institutions like FIU and the JMF, for innovative music education curriculum, is a natural.” Sari Rose Barron, the Project Director for the Accentuate The Positive Los Angeles program, led the workshop on how to implement the ATP program. Dianne Thurman, JMF Education Committee Chair, spoke about the work of the Foundation and expressed her gratitude to the music teachers who have committed to teach the ATP program.
Also in attendance was Jon Brielle, Vice President of JMF, who was delighted at the success of the mutually beneficial program. Brian Schriner, Dean of FIU’s College of Architecture + The Arts, which houses the School of Music, summed up the goodwill engendered by the event, saying “what a perfect fit. FIU joining with JMF has proved to be powerful in so many positive ways. The upside for students interested in pursuing a career in music is incalculable and working with JMF is a definite plus for all involved, students and educators alike.”