Teachers' musical methods reaching national audience

Friday, December 31, 2004

An innovative music program has two Jackson High School teachers educating not just students, but other teachers as well.

Tom Broussard, an instrumental music teacher, and Christy Shinn, director of choral activities at the high school, have been selected to be consultants for the College Board and will soon travel around the country to teach other teachers about their music program.

The College Board is a national, not-for-profit membership association whose mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity. The organization facilitates advanced placement courses in high schools across the country as well as the SAT tests.

Broussard and Shinn are two of just three College Board music consultants. The third is from Boston. Last August, both Broussard and Shinn attended a special training event in Denver to learn how to be consultants.

They'll begin traveling to other schools for special development sessions in the spring. Broussard said he and Shinn were likely selected because of Jackson's vertical teaming in music.

Vertical teaming is a process that brings teachers in a certain subject area, such as music, together to plan and align curriculum from the elementary level through high school.

"We were one of the very first schools ever to implement the vertical teaming concept," Broussard said. "It met with such success in our school district that they want us out there talking about it. We're kind of being ambassadors."

Most of the consulting work will be done on weekends, so their teaching schedule at Jackson will not be disrupted. The College Board pays for all expenses involved.

Shinn said Jackson High School was even credited in the professional development materials she received at the August training session.

"It's neat because we saw it come from the ground up," Shinn said. "Then, when we went to be trained, the materials we used were things we helped come up with."

Shinn said vertical teaming in her department has had major impacts on the success of her students.

"So many things in music build on each other," Shinn said. "At the high school, I get to see the big successes in contests, but it's not just because of me. It's because of who the students had in elementary, middle and junior high school when the whole process works right."


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