Teaching literacy through music in Grand Rapids


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Within the Kent County district, 81% of children at the 20 lowest performing schools read under state standards. This is a startling statistic, and is partly contributed to the low socioeconomic situations these kids face. But literacy matters. It is a crucial building block for academic achievement, thus giving these little ones a chance to determine their future. The Mind Meets Music educational program is our 3rd finalist in the Connecting With Community Awards, and they seek to meet literacy needs in a nuanced way by bringing music lessons to the classroom.As an early literacy program for preschool to second graders, the program understands how music and reading are related, especially at a young age. Though they play musical games and sing songs, these kids are learning rhythm, patterns, rhyming, dictation, as well as learning to read and write out notes. All this is very hands on and fun, but these skills taught in this curriculum are also extremely transferrable to reading comprehension as well.

Through this effort to develop literacy for kids, Mind Meets Music also recognizes how the hands-on curriculum is benefiting the kids beyond just reading. Kids are also learning to develop their math skills and interpersonal skills as well.

It helps me be more confident to talk in front of a large group of people” —

Says  Iselly Santillanes, a student at Parkview Elementary.

As the principal of Parkview, Katie Jobson recognizes how this program is a necessity for the kids in her school. In a time when the arts programs are losing their legitimacy in schools due to the rise of STEM related subjects, Jobson believes that the arts truly do create an understanding for all subjects and beyond.

Just being able to have a unique path to build these reading skills, to try to bridge that gap so that these kids can have all the possibilities that are open to them in the future, that’s huge for me”

-Katie Jobsen, Principal at Parkview Elementary

Parkview Elementary is just one of many schools around West Michigan partnering with the Mind Meets Music program. Additionally, collaborative foundations like the Sebastian foundation, Doug & Maria DeVos foundation, Huntington Bank, and the United States Department of Education help effectively enact this as well.

This program holds a bright future for the many students they work with, and it’s because of their strong vision they have to provide academic hope for at-risk students. The Mind Meets Music program has a good road ahead of them, as they hope to expand their mission at a national level.

The community benefits, because when our children do well, the community does well….if we can step in there and help the children of today, we know we’re helping the children of tomorrow”

-Monique Salinas, PhD – Mind Meets Music Executive Director

Keep up with the Connecting with Community Awards here, and watch the next Connecting with Community Awards finalist story Fridays on 24 Hour News 8.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Connecting with Community Partner Links

WOOD TV8 Partner Links