East Coffee Elementary School took a step forward to improve all county schools’ music programs.

Music teacher Christy Ledsinger was introduced to a grant during a training session in Chattanooga and took the leap to beginning her first grant writing process. Her efforts awarded the district $124,000. No matching funds are required.

“We have not had a new curriculum in 20 years,” Ledsinger said about elementary schools music curriculum. The county music teachers meet regularly and the curriculum, as well as the uneven distribution of music instruments, are the top two concerns. Each will be tackled in the three year grant period.

Ledsinger wanted to give a shout out to the Coffee Middle School and Coffee County Central High School band programs for giving her their blessing to focus on elementary schools first.

In the first year, she will be using the funds to update curriculum and purchase instruments for the elementary schools. In the second year, the grant money will purchase risers for the choral department and more instruments for all grade levels. The third year will finish up instrument purchases and will fund professional development.

Central High School is in dire need of sousaphones, oboes and mouth pieces, Ledsinger said, while the elementary schools need xylophones and African drums.  

Ledsinger explained each elementary school teacher has their own area of expertise. For example, North Coffee’s John Wright is big into plays and recorders, New Union’s Richard Gable loves xylophones and music composition and Ledsinger herself focuses on singing and creating rhythms.

The grant will allow her to work with the strengths of each school and the needs of their students.

“That wouldn’t be possible if the music teachers didn’t get together,” she said.

She implored the community to come out and support their school’s music programs by attending concerts or showing an interest in the programming. Ledsinger explained, for some students, music classes are what keeps them in school and enjoying their day – it’s something to look forward to in school. Music also helps create a well-rounded student, she said.

“We need this for the kids,” Ledsinger said. “Our valedictorian (George Gannon) is a member of the band. Our valedictorian was a member of my choir here.

Ledsinger thanked Erica Petersen at the high school, Raider Academy Assistant Principal Terri Murr and East Coffee’s Assistant Principal James St. John for helping her with the grant, as well as all the music teachers who sent her information about what they needed for their school.

She also is grateful for former Director of Schools LaDonna McFall, Family Resource Center coordinator Taylor Rayfield and Lisa Myers for sitting in on the grant interview with her during Thanksgiving break, and for Myers agreeing to be the grant’s project manager.

“It’s lit me on fire because I keep thinking we needed this, we this, what’s next? It makes me think of the future,” Ledsinger said.

“Onto the next,” she concluded.

News Editor

Casey recently joined the Manchester Times team in March 2018. Coming off a 17-month reporter stint in Port Chester, NY, she is looking forward to slowing down and integrating herself into the community. She currently resides in Manchester.

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