Mount Olive’s music education program receives national recognition

Mount Olive Township School District has been honored for its outstanding music program and named one of the Best Communities for Music Education by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation in association with the University of Kansas. In 2017, only 4% of districts across the nation received the distinction.
The Best Communities for Music Education honor is a recognition of the efforts of teachers, administrators, parents, students, and community leaders who have made music an integral part of the district’s educational experience.

“Mount Olive has a staff of passionate teachers who really go above and beyond expectations to get their students to think and learn,” said Matthew Vanzini, Mount Olive’s student achievement team leader for music. “I believe this recognition is way overdue not only for the students and teachers, but for the administration and board of education that so genuinely supports the arts.”

The award from the foundation acknowledges that Mount Olive is leading the way with music opportunities as outlined in the new federal education legislation, the Every Student Succeeds Act. The legislation, signed into law in December 2015 and awaiting state implementation, designates music and the arts as important elements of well-rounded education for all children.

“The Mount Olive music program is the best I’ve seen in all my years in education,” said Dr. Larrie Reynolds, superintendent of schools. “One only need look to the amazing array of programs that are offered to our young musicians; they perform everything from Bach to the Beatles through groups ranging from the Madrigals to the Rock and Roll Academy. Where else can a student get an opportunity to sing at Carnegie Hall every year or jam during lunch breaks?”

Lizzy Tarallo, a senior at Mount Olive High School, credits the district with helping her develop a love of music and performing. “Being a part of the choral department in Mount Olive has been nothing short of amazing,” she said. “We’re lucky to have dedicated teachers and awesome facilities to make music in. I know want to continue to sing and be involved with music in the future because it has become such a part of who I am.”

Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music. In a series of landmark studies by scientists and researchers at Northwestern University, a link was found between students in community music programs and lifelong academic success, including higher high school graduation rates and college attendance. In another study from Northwestern, early exposure to music education was shown to improve the way the brain processes and assimilates sounds, a trait that lasts well into adulthood.
The National Association of Music Merchants Foundation works to advance active participation in music by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving, and public service programs. For more information about the NAMM Foundation, please visit