Chittick Elementary School

The Chittick Elementary is a thriving, intimate school of just over 300 passionate, charismatic, eager young learners. Our school is located in the heart of the city of Boston where there is a high concentration of low-income families who strive to provide the absolute best opportunities for their children despite the numerous obstacles they face. Yet, we witness the resilience of our students daily. We inspire, encourage, teach and reach young people who overcome while living in single-parent homes, foster care systems, and even in shelters. Some students have dealt with losing loved ones prematurely to violence; others endure extremely stressful family situations. Not every child’s story is one of grave detriment, but each child has a unique story to tell of how they rise to the challenge of learning in the face of adversity. In addition, we have a large population of autistic and inclusion students with a wide variety of needs and abilities. Music proves time and time again to be a valuable gift to all, giving every student a voice.

My students and I are in LOVE with music! Through it, we explore our past, challenge our present and blaze trails toward the bright future. Music is offered to all students at our school. To name a few, our musical explorations include singing songs of hope, dancing for joy, engaging in positive rap, songwriting and analyzing, playing various instruments, and learning the history behind songs that have shaped our world for the better. Simultaneously, we learn the mechanics of music theory and notation. Students can identify key elements in music while listening to and playing multiple genres.

Keys of Inspiration is a priceless jewel in our school community because it rings true to its name. It has brought inspiration, joy and new-found purpose to the lives of our young people. They are discovering gifts, talents, and possibilities they had no idea existed. A student who abhorred singing found their voice in learning the piano. KOI has expanded our horizons and made teaching just a bit easier. I say this because I began teaching at the Chittick school with no music room and no budget. I traveled door to door with one keyboard under my arm, a bag filled with a few percussion instruments, one or two books, stacks of personally-made theory handouts and a laptop with speakers. In efforts to teach just a few piano skills, I printed out 30 true-to-size pictures of one octave on the keyboard. I taught students the name of each white key along with proper hand position and 5-note scales by having them place their fingers on the paper. A few years later, we obtained 9 keyboards through a small DonorsChoose grant and students would share two and three kids to one piano. Today, I am proud to say that we have a fully dedicated music room filled with a state-of-the-art piano lab and a budget that will allow me to give our children access to top quality materials for a well-rounded music education. This is all thanks to Lang Lang’s vision. Thank you, KOI, for bringing immense joy and greater opportunities to the lives of countless young stars around the world!