Keeping Arts Education in Schools: TeachRock and CT Gov. Announce Partnership

Governor Ned Lamont today announced that the State of Connecticut, through the State Department of Education, is partnering with TeachRock to launch an innovative, standards-aligned arts curriculum in schools statewide that empowers teachers to engage with students using the history of popular music and culture.

TeachRock works with participating school districts at no cost, fostering a classroom environment where lesson plans incorporate culture and music into history in a way that resonates with students. Presented by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legend Steve Van Zandt’s Rock and Roll Forever Foundation, TeachRock has worked directly with districts and schools in California, New Mexico, New Jersey, and New York over the past several years. This spring, Van Zandt has created “Little Steven’s Virtual Classroom Tour” that utilizes Zoom to provide classrooms with a visit, as well as fundraise for the foundation.

Research has shown that knowledge of and participation in an arts education, especially during the formative years, can aid in the development of students as culturally responsive, compassionate, creative, and contributing members of society. TeachRock’s development was facilitated by experienced educators to weave arts and music history through core subjects such as English and Social Studies. The lesson plans go through the intersection of social, political, and economic forces within popular culture and how music has shaped and reflected those forces across the centuries.

“When I was a teenager, school wasn’t reaching me,” TeachRock founder Steven Van Zandt said. “It didn’t speak to my needs or interests, and I saw no future in a society I was supposed to be a part of. Then the Beatles saved my life. Rock and roll and soul. The arts gave me the confidence to forge a path in the world… We need to reach the part of their brain that responds emotionally and instinctively, that uses imagination rather than facts and specifics. Something that makes them relax and feel more comfortable about the very process of education. And right now is when kids need us the most.” 

“Especially during this time of a pandemic, we must give educators the tools they need to innovate from the inside out to engage students in creative ways,” Connecticut Education Deputy Commissioner of Education Desi Nesmith said. “TeachRock’s unique curriculum does that by connecting students to history, culture, and human experiences while positively impacting their social-emotional development.”

Each year, districts can apply to participate in the TeachRock program. The number of TeachRock schools will expand annually across Connecticut, implementing the curricula into classes and online libraries.

TeachRock was launched by Little Steven and the Founders Board of Bono, Jackson Browne, Martin Scorsese, and Bruce Springsteen, has provided free, standards-aligned resources to help teachers, students, and families succeed for more than a decade. 

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