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Andy Gonzalez teaches math and science to sixth grade stu- dents at Ascencion Solorsano Middle School. He has served GUSD for 16 years. His teaching career began in the Bay Area, and later brought him to South Valley Middle School to work as a substitute teacher. Based on his track record of performance, the school’s former principal, Linda Piceno (currently a GUSD school board trustee), offered him a full-time teaching position. “I had a great set of mentors early in my career who helped me to develop and grow into the teacher I am today,” Gonzalez said, “and I have more to learn to help my students achieve their best.” His two children are now enrolled in GUSD schools. GUSD continues to seek out, welcome and mentor qualified teachers whose passion is to educate our students so they can reach their full potential. Andy Gonzalez Music Enriches in Surprising Ways Written By Kimberly Beare, PIO, Morgan Hill Unified School District GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN W e all want to see students develop positive character traits. Self-confidence, focus, time management, self- discipline, patience, perseverance. Qualities that will help them thrive in learning and in life. Music education may not be one of the first things that comes to mind when thinking about how to cultivate these character traits, but it should be. In recent years, the shift towards STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education has had the unintended consequence of sidelining music education at many public schools even though studies by educators, neuroscientists and psychologists show that playing a musical instrument benefits brain development in ways that enhance STEM learning. Fortunately, the Morgan Hill Unified School District has managed to buck this trend—embracing STEM and Arts education programs—because they complement each other. Morgan Hill is just a stone’s throw from Google, Facebook and Apple; global giants that create jobs for many thousands of people. We are preparing our students to fill those jobs through science and physics projects, hands-on assignments, and project- based learning. At the same time, we offer music education. Our middle schools boast talented band ensembles that feed into award-winning high school marching bands. A study of College Board data showed that students involved in public school music programs scored, on average, 107 points higher on the SATs than students with no involvement. While these findings make headlines, Greg Chambers and Jason Locsin say that music education offers other compelling benefits beyond test scores. Chambers and Locsin have seen these benefits first- hand through their roles as Band Directors in the Morgan Hill Unified School District. According to Chambers, “The real testament comes from what might not be easily measured.” Chambers explained that Sobrato High School’s Marching Band devotes 10-25 hours per week to rehearsals and performances outside of class time. For these students, focus and time management skills are crucial. “Band [is like] family for our kids,” Chambers said. “They eat together, travel together, laugh and cry together, and have the same desire to see the band be successful while enjoying the journey.” Now in its 47th year, Live Oak High School’s world-renowned Emerald Regime Band demonstrates our school district’s heritage of dedication to music education. Jason Locsin has led the Emerald Regime for ten years. The former Live Oak student and band member said of music education, “Learning to play an instrument teaches patience and perseverance. Even the most talented students are challenged in music. If you want to be good, you have to practice.” Chambers and Locsin talked about how the study of music pushes kids to be self-learners. The mastery of their chosen musical instrument requires self-discipline and creates a sense of self-confidence. There’s also a sense of individual duty to learn their part so the band, as a whole, can deliver its best performance. These habits carry over into their other classes in a powerful way. Grades and test scores are an important part of every student’s life. Extensive research tells us that music education plays a role in achieving higher grades and test scores and helping students to excel in STEM education. Just as important are the deeper benefits of music education, which help our students develop those positive character traits that will carry them through life. MARCH/APRIL 2017 gmhtoday.com 43