Fostering Diversity among Future Leaders in the Arts
This post is part of our “Broadening and Diversifying the Leadership Pipeline” blog salon for National Arts in Education Week 2018.
I will never forget the day I first heard the phrase, “If you can see it, you can be it.” Fast-forward thirteen years, and these words ring true in the work I do to help facilitate the annual National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Collegiate Advocacy Summit and Hill Day. Over the past five years, more than 400 undergraduate students from across the United States have traveled to Washington, D.C., to learn leadership and advocacy skills from leaders in the field of music education. Additionally, and arguably most important, is the work these students do to advocate for the importance of music education to our elected officials during congressional office visits. The stories they tell and the passion they bring make all the difference when connecting a face to a name and cause for our representatives on Capitol Hill.
The experiences on Capitol Hill often lead these young leaders and future music educators to report envisioning themselves as leaders and decision-makers—not only for the arts and arts education, but for our country and our world. Perhaps this spark would not have developed into a fiery passion had these students not had the opportunity to make the trek to D.C. for the NAfME Collegiate Advocacy Summit.
“The mission of the National Association for Music Education is to advance music education by promoting the understanding and making of music by all.” Furthermore, NAfME believes “every individual should be guaranteed the opportunity to learn music and to share in musical experiences.” However, various barriers stand in the way of this valiant vision coming to fruition. It is no secret that the dedicated educators standing before classrooms today are not fully representative of the students they serve. The NAfME Collegiate Advocacy Summit is just one rung on the ladder toward a more diverse workforce serving our students and leading our profession. By sharing the conversations and challenges facing arts education with these collegiate students, while standing hand-in-hand with current leadership to present a clear message, NAfME is making an investment in the future. And the future is bright!
In the coming decades, school buildings across the country will be brimming with culturally diverse administrators, educators, and students learning from and with each other as they explore culturally relevant topics. Under the wise direction of the profession’s current leadership, our Association is working to bridge the gap between where we are today and where we want to be tomorrow. The key to such future success is a broad and diverse pipeline that extends from the K–12 classroom all the way through life to positions of leadership and authority. Today’s future music educators can see what future success looks like for arts education, and they will be the force that propels such visions into reality.