Linden named a best school district for music education

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LINDEN, NJ — Linden Public Schools has done it again. Cementing an illustrious track record, the district has been named among the Best Communities for Music Education in the nation for the sixth year in a row. Linden is one of about 700 districts across the country to be chosen for the prestigious honor for 2020.

The National Association of Music Merchants Foundation, known as NAMM, has recognized the district for its outstanding commitment to music education.

There is no ranking; rather, the honor is shared among a collection of districts. Linden is one of just 49 districts in New Jersey and four in Union County to be selected, along with Berkeley Heights, Elizabeth and Westfield.

Matthew Lorenzetti, Linden Public Schools’ supervisor of both the Fine and Performing Arts and Gifted and Talented programs, said Linden achieved this honor due to buy-in from all its stakeholders.

“One of our strengths as a district is that everyone, including the Board of Education, superintendent, business administrator, building administrators, etc., value and support the arts,” Lorenzetti told LocalSource on April 14. “This makes showcasing and growing our music program much easier. In addition, we have fantastic teaching staff that gets involved not only in their own school community but the neighborhood community around the schools as well. Our students, elementary through high school, perform multiple times each year at local AARP meetings, senior citizen and special needs housing facilities, and city-sponsored events. We really embrace the ‘community’ in the title of this designation.”

Linden Public Schools communication coordinator Gary Miller applauded the three other districts in Union County that also earned this prestigious designation.

“The districts of Elizabeth, Westfield and Berkeley Heights have been selected for the honor as well,” Miller said.

Now, in its 21st year, Best Communities for Music Education highlights outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders who work together to ensure access to music learning for all students as part of the school curriculum.

The Best Communities for Music Education survey, sent to nearly 14,000 school districts across the country, asks detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by the Center for Public Partnerships and Research, which is an affiliate of the University of Kansas.

“The districts are emailed with a link to the website with the application form,” Miller said. “The form was 57 pages when printed.”

According to the Center for Public Partnerships and Research’s website, the organization comprises educators, social workers, researchers, psychologists and sociologists working toward social change through data science, social innovation, and research and evaluation.

Celebrating Linden’s six-year streak as a BCME, Lorenzetti recognizes the hard work the district has put in to find itself in this position once again.

“Our students and teachers should be incredibly proud to be recognized for a sixth year in a row,” said Lorenzetti. “This honor is a reflection of their dedication and talents. We also thank our administrators, Board of Education, and community for their overwhelming and continued support for all of our arts programs. This is an achievement we can all take pride in as a district family.”

“We take great pride in our music program, and receiving this prestigious honor this year is a reflection of that,” interim Superintendent of Schools Denise Cleary said. “This is a team effort led by Mr. Lorenzetti and our outstanding collection of music teachers. And they couldn’t do it without the support of all of our staff, the dedication of our families, and especially our hardworking student musicians and vocalists. Music and fine arts are a critical part of our curriculum throughout the school year, and they play a big part in keeping our spirits up as we face our current challenge of home learning.”

Photos Courtesy of Gary Miller