Awards are always nice to receive, but this one is special. It honors several of the values Jurupa Unified leaders strive to model for students: diligence, teamwork, support for the arts, and service to others.
Jose Campos, the district's Director of Parent and Community Involvement, has been named Partner of the Year by Unidos Por La Musica, a group that supports low-income students and facilitates upward mobility through education and music.
The JUSD Board of Trustees formally praised the recognition last week, after the Ontario-based nonprofit conferred the award at its recent Christmas Ball Gala.
"We connected to the values of the organization," Mr. Campos said of the teamwork with Unidos Por La Musica. "They're looking to help the community be self-sufficient and offer opportunities otherwise out of reach for students of poverty."
Those opportunities include low- or no-cost voice, guitar and keyboard lessons for students in third through sixth grades. The program builds confidence and experience in those who can't pay retail for music lessons, Mr. Campos said.
The partnership began two years ago with a pilot program at Rustic Lane Elementary, featuring guitar and voice instruction. The team then rolled out similar summer courses, along with keyboards training. And classes continue this school year, with 26 kids in guitar and voice lessons. The $40 bimonthly cost covers 1.5 hours of instruction per week. Low-income families may apply for price waivers.
This low-cost model has paid dividends: Not only do music lessons cultivate skilled, well-rounded students, but they also boost young brain development. Academic research has found that classical-music instruction helps students unlock parts of the brain reached only through music – and which are hard to access after age 14. Opening these pathways can help students excel in mathematics. And according to a recent USC study, children who studied music outperformed nonmusical peers at memorizing a series of numbers and discerning differences in pitch and rhythm.
Based on such benefits, Jurupa Unified has incorporated stringed instrument instruction at multiple school sites – en route to building a full symphony orchestra – and this year opened the Pacific Avenue Academy of Music.
Of trailblazing partner Unidos Por La Musica, Mr. Campos said, "This is one group that stood out for having a big heart and being in it for the right reasons – a nonprofit with a lot of similar goals to what we're seeking to achieve. The award is an acknowledgement of our mission and values."
The district's Department of Parent Involvement and Community Outreach offers a range of programs, resources, and support systems, including courses in parenting, nutrition and child development; links to medical, dental and mental health care; and the distribution of food, clothing and school supplies to families in acute need.
Last month, the department won a Golden Bell Award from the California School Boards Association, for a program that helps children ages 0-4 prepare for school.
Said Mr. Campos, who also earned this year's Jurupa Unified Administrator of the Year award: "We want to change the world, one student at a time."
For more information, please contact the Department of Parent Involvement and Community Outreach at (951) 360-4175.