Maine Kids Rock Initiative Welcomes New Educators for 2020/21 School Year

The Maine Kids Rock Initiative, a statewide program that offers professional training to teachers as well as grants for instruments and equipment to schools with identified needs, enters its fourth year with the addition of the following educators to its roster:

  • Kate Smith (Central School, RSU 35)
  • Janice Marro (Great Works School, RSU 35)
  • Michelle Snow (South Portland High School)
  • Mike Hutchinson (Houlton Southside School, RSU 29)
  • Sharyn Walker (Mill Pond Elementary/Hodgdon Junior/Senior High School, SAD 70)
  • Scott Walker (Hodgdon Junior/Senior High School, SAD 70)

These teachers join the ranks of nearly 60 additional teachers across Maine who utilize the Modern Band approach to music education with nearly 1,000 students at all grade levels.

The Maine Kids Rock initiative continues as a partnership between the Maine Department of Education and the national non-profit organization Little Kids Rock.

Throughout the year these teachers will receive free professional development opportunities, and their schools will receive a set of classroom instruments for students to use as they explore music education through a modern music lens.  Learning opportunities for students go beyond just learning to play a guitar or drums; they also explore songwriting, the development of interpersonal skills, and boost self confidence as performers.

“The Maine Kids Rock program has helped give more kids opportunities to be a part of a music program that would not normally be in the department,” says Kevin Mania, music educator in RSU 29 in Houlton and a member of the first cohort of Maine Kids Rock educators four years ago.  “In fact, there are many kids that take this class that are looking for a place to fit in, and be a part of a collaborative learning environment. Jazz band is still very important in our school music programs, modern band is fulfilling the need for kids to play current music that inspires them today.  It breaks barriers by letting kids start out late in the game and develops lifelong learners.”

Kate Smith, a member of the newest cohort, says “Participating in the Maine Little Kids Rock Initiative is very important to me because I know it’s a critical step in ensuring my curriculum content is relevant and culturally inclusive. The training I received at the Modern Band Summit in July not only helped me understand how to teach traditional modern band instruments, it also offered workshops that helped me understand the modern band’s role in cultural expression and tradition.”

For more information about the Maine Kids Rock Initiative through the Maine Department of Education, please contact Visual and Performing Arts Content Specialist Jason Anderson at jason.anderson@maine.gov.