Poverty, Barriers, Music & Success: Understanding & Helping Low-Income Music Students Succeed

September 20October 17, 2021

For some students and families, financial and time barriers are a limiting factor in their participation in school music. There are many labels available to describe students without a lot of money and/or support: Low-income, high needs, underserved, less fortunate, poor, poverty-stricken and impoverished are just a few. In a pandemic world, we may see more families afflicted by poverty, and therefore, we must be prepared to help our students and community.

This course will help teachers to understand where low-income and high-needs students are coming from, present strategies and ideas to help with teaching, supporting, and advocating for students from low-income and high need situations, and will help instructors develop plans to locate financial resources for their students and programs. Every student deserves a good teacher and a fair chance at success, and band, orchestra, choir and general music can be offered to all students.

Instructor: Don Stinson

Don Stinson (BMEd '07) is the director of bands at Joliet Central High School, only the fifth director in the band’s 107-year history. Under his direction, the band program received a grant from the Give a Note Foundation and three consecutive NAMM Foundation Support Music Merit awards for excellence in music education. In 2019 he received the Chicagoland Outstanding Music Educator Award from the Quinlan and Fabish Music Company.

Prior to coming to Joliet Central, Stinson was a band director at Naperville North High School (NNHS), where he conducted the Symphonic Wind Ensemble twice at the University of Illinois Superstate Festival, once as 4A Honor Band in 2016. The NNHS Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Wind Symphony received Superior ratings at numerous festivals, and NNHS Jazz Band was named 2A Grand Champions at the Northshore Jazz Festival. The NNHS Marching Band finished as class champions or top three at many local shows, and performed at the Bands of America Regional Competition in Indianapolis. Prior to Naperville, Stinson was the director of bands at Morris Community High School in Morris, IL. Highlights at Morris High School included the doubling of band enrollment, the development of a Guest Artist Series, recognition from the NAMM Foundation as a 2014 SupportMusic Merit Award Winner, and Class 1A State of Illinois Concert Band Contest Champions.

Stinson holds two Citations of Excellence from the National Band Association, and was twice named as Grammy Music Educator quarter-finalist in 2014 and 2016. He earned an associate degree from Joliet Junior College, studying under Jerry E. Lewis, and earned his Bachelor of Music Education degree summa cum laude at VanderCook. Stinson completed his MMEd degree at Northern Illinois University, and is a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification teacher.

VanderCook College of Music - (312) 225-6288