High Needs, Monumental Successes: Understanding, Teaching & Advocating for Students from Low-Income & High-Need Areas

High Needs, Monumental Successes: Understanding, Teaching & Advocating for Students from Low-Income & High-Need Areas

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Music is expensive, and for some families, financial barriers and time constraints are limiting factors in students’ participation in school music. There are many labels used 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.

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.

Topics will include:

  • Characteristics of Low-Income/High Need Area Students
  • Attendance Issues
  • Knowing and Embracing Your Situation
  • Teaching the Students You Have (Not Necessarily the Students You Think You Want)
  • Practicing: Not Required?
  • Kids Making Adult Choices
  • Unbalanced Instrumentation or Voicing
  • Literature Choices
  • Finding Finances
  • Communicating Your/Your Student’s Needs
  • Determining What You Can and Should Do

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.

Course Details

High Needs, Monumental
Successes: Understanding,
Teaching & Advocating for
Students from Low-In
& High-Need Areas

Course Code 6230

Don Stinson

2 Graduate Credits

$710, due in full with registration

Online Chat Sessions
This course will require video sessions through Zoom (one scheduled session, and two sessions at the discretion of the teacher and student).


Required Text(s)

Software/Hardware Requirements
Internet access is required.

MECA Online Course Details
VanderCook Online is powered by Schoology ( Through this learning management system, you'll be able to interact directly with your instructor, students in your classes, and members of the greater VanderCook Online community.

Fall 2020 MECA courses officially begin on Monday, Sept. 21. Soon after you register, you'll be added as a new Schoology user. Be on the lookout for an email from Schoology with log-in instructions. Once you are given credentials, simply visit to login. On the morning of Sept. 21, you'll have access to your classroom and course material.

Some courses have specific online chat meeting times (please see course descriptions), while others have a flexible meeting schedule. You can expect all courses to meet together in a live online chat. If a live meeting time doesn’t work, you can work with your instructor to make other arrangements.

You’ll have the opportunity to work at your own pace each week while completing assignments and posting responses to discussion questions. You’ll constantly be interacting with your instructor and classmates online, and working through new material each week. We know how crazy school schedules can get, so our instructors try to make everything as flexible as possible!

Online grades will be reported by mid-October. If you are in need of a transcript please visit the online transcript request page. If you are in need a quick turn around time for your transcript please submit the transcript request to the registrar prior to the end of your course(s).


VanderCook College of Music

3140 South Federal Street
Chicago, IL 60616-3731
(312) 225-6288

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