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Both Hopewell Valley Regional School District and Lawrence Township Public Schools were named to the Best Communities for Music Education List for 2014.

The NAMM Foundation, a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Merchant Musicians, awards school music education programs with the announcement of 2014’s Best Communities for Music Education (BCME).

This year, the NAMM Foundation designated 376 districts as Best Communities for Music Education and 96 individual schools as SupportMusic Merit Award winners. These districts and schools set the bar in offering students access to comprehensive music education.

The BCME program applauds the efforts of teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders working to assure that music education is part of the core curriculum. More than 2000 schools and school districts participated in this year’s survey resulting in a 21% increase in designations.

“These schools and districts make a strong commitment to music education in the core curriculum supporting its essential value to a well-rounded education for every child,” said Mary Luehrsen, NAMM Foundation executive director. “Strong, engaging programs that offer students access to music cannot thrive in a vacuum. The Best Communities designation and the SupportMusic Merit Award bring hard-won visibility to music classes, programs and departments that are keeping music education alive in our schools.”

Now in its 15th year, the BCME program evaluates schools and districts based on funding, staffing of highly qualified teachers, commitment to standards, and access to music instruction. The NAMM Foundation with the assistance of researchers at The Institute for Educational Research and Public Service of Lawrence, Kansas (an affiliate of the University of Kansas) evaluate participants on these factors. Designations are made to districts and schools that demonstrate an exceptionally high commitment and greater access to music education.

As school districts across the United States grapple with 2014-2015 budget allocations, the announcement of this year’s Best Communities for Music Education designees brings fresh focus to the significance of music education programs. Past designees report to NAMM that receiving a BCME designation significantly buoyed support for their schools’ music education programs.

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Andrea Fereshteh has been writing for as long as she can remember. An avid journal-keeper as a child, she dabbled in dramatic notes to her parents and designed her own stationary. With a zest for small talk and meeting new people, she pursued journalism in college and worked for nine years in PR, writing and media relations for the higher ed and nonprofit sectors. She has a mousters and ducktorate from Disney University and is a mother to two lively boys who inspire her to just keep writing, just keep writing.

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