Gerald Ricke, Director of Bands
address: 18725 Bates Avenue, Eustis, FL 32736
phone: 352-357-6220

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Mustang Caring For School Community (MCSC)

The Eustis Band Program is under the direction of Mr. Ricke, who has over 33 years experience teaching band, 19 of which are here at Eustis Middle School. Our band program is continuing to grow and has been highly successful over the last decade in local, state, and national competitions and festivals. This band is increasingly being invited to perform at these and a variety of other types of events. Every successful band program needs money, and the more successful the program, the more money is needed to ensure continued success. Involvement in the band program offers many benefits to students, including:

Students of music bring creativity to product design and marketing

Study of music helps students to think and work across traditional disciplines. They learn to integrate knowledge and to “think outside the box.”    

Music education teaches students how to work together.

A music education builds an understanding of diversity and the multi-cultural dimensions of our work.

A music education contributes to areas that are important to the future of all Floridians.

Consequently, living in a global world as we do, studying music means participating in a global behavior conducted utilizing universally accepted practices.

What musicians lack in business experience, they make up for in creativity.

Math and science are the big talking and testing points in education these days, but human resource experts believe to truly succeed in today’s global economy, tomorrow’s workers benefit most from studying and participating in the arts.

In order to participate in a band program the children are required to purchase an instrument, buy a uniform, provide many entry fees, pay for accompanists, and pay for transportation and other expenses for trips and outings. Parents bear the burden of most of these costs.
Our band has many underprivileged children that require donated instruments and partial or full financial help with entry fees to such events as State competitions and the end of the year parade and competition at Universal Studios Orlando. Our award winning, first place Steel Drum program is funded almost completely with monies raised by the band and boosters.
As a whole, our community is doing well, with an average income of approximately $42,000/year, and with higher-than-average home ownership. The TOTAL Percentage of our residents living in poverty is only 15 percent, which is a fairly low number.
About 20 percent of the City of Eustis’ population of 18,600 residents is student age.

Right here at our school we have a student population of approximately 1,050 students, which is a large student body. About 28% of the total Eustis student population is at our school, Eustis Middle.

36 percent of our students are minorities.

51 percent of the total student population qualify for and receive free or reduced lunch

Reading and math proficiency is 10-20 percent lower at our school than the statewide average.

Our fine school rates well on FCAT scoring, ranking 72 out of 100, and our school consistently earns an A rating, something of which we are very proud
The numbers show that Eustis High School ranks 50 out of 100 on the FCAT exam. We feel that we can help to raise that number by at least 25% percent on the FCAT standardized exam at the high school if we continue to improve our music education program here in the middle school level.
We know that Eustis High School has a 77% graduation rate, something to be proud of! The graduation rate is high among other cities, but we feel that it could be, and would be, improved upon with improvements to our music program.
Research proves that the long term benefits of a strong music education program can help to raise the graduation rates to 94% and beyond.
Currently, only about 17% of our high school graduates continue on to earn a higher education degree, with only 5 percent earning graduate or higher degrees. This is a number that our program aims to change.
However, among those with a long-term music education, 80% are likely to go on to earn a masters degree or better. In addition, statistics show that of people with a doctorate degree, 80% are well trained in at least one musical instrument. Truly, the statistics show the benefits of a music education!
The Eustis Middle School band averages about 150 total students. Our students are positive role models in the school and in the community, and we are working to develop a program called The Mustangs Caring for School Community (MCSC). The program is designed to create a caring school environment characterized by kind and supportive relationships and collaboration among students from the Mustang Band, staff, and parents. The MCSC model is consistent with research-based practices for increasing student achievement as well as the theoretical and empirical literature supporting the benefits of a caring classroom community in meeting students' needs for emotional and physical safety, supportive relationships, autonomy, and sense of competence.

By creating a caring school community, our program seeks to promote pro-social values, increase academic motivation and achievement, and prevent drug use, violence, and delinquency. MCSC has seven components designed to be implemented over the course of the school year:

  1. Meeting the community:  Throughout the year the Eustis Mustang Middle School Band competes in many fairs, festivals and shows. After each performance the members of the band participate with other students in a question and answer session. During this time our students explain all the benefits they receive during their time with the band program. The members of the band each explain how the band has helped them become better students, friends, and how the confidence gained through the music program helps them to become better human beings.
  2. Class Meeting Lessons:  This provides students in the Mustang Band with a forum to spend time with local elementary school students in a classroom climate. During the time spent in the classroom our students will share their experiences and explain why the time they spend with the band is not only good for social awareness but more importantly, how being involved with the arts can improve test results. Our students want to show the younger elementary students that learning notation when reading music equates to reading and understanding fractions. Often times, mastering the use of fractions is a problem for students of mathematics. Understanding and having familiarity with using fractions is one of the keys to understanding and being able to do higher mathematics. Understanding how to use and manipulate fractions is a consistent problem for English Language Learners, so learning music and musical notation as a tool has been proven to raise levels of mathematical comprehension.      
  3. Community Outreach:  Community Outreach is an important tool that the members of The Mustang Band currently use and will continue to build upon. During the school year the Eustis Middle School Mustang Band plays music around our community many times, including at local street festivals, holiday parades and nearby elementary schools. But, we want to take our Community Outreach a step further. Our Community Outreach Program will reach the children who are not always exposed to the fact that children at 10, 12, and 14 years of age can actually learn to play an instrument. We want to reach those children who did not know they had the option to join the band, despite financial constraints. Our program will bring our Jazz Band and our Steel Drum Band to a community day camp or after school program twice per year. During this event the members of the band will reach out to children who are underprivileged and live in disadvantaged settings, letting them know about our instrument donation program. These children are not aware that, thanks to fund-raising efforts, they could also join the band due to the fact that entry fees, instruments and uniforms because the entry fees and uniforms can in fact be donated for their use. Many of these children need something inspirational and fulfilling in their lives, and without our help, many of these children may never know that they too could play a steel drum or saxophone.   
  4. Real World Experience: Once per year we will invite the thirty most needy students from the elementary schools in our jurisdiction based upon grades or poor attendance to our School. We will invite them to a free event hosted by the Mustang Band in the band room where the students will get a chance to see in person the Eustis Mustang Steel Drum Band and The Eustis Mustang Jazz Ensemble.  After the concert the students from the surrounding schools will be able to interact with the instruments, the band members and the director. The students will be able to ask questions, and our hope is that the experience will lead to these students wanting to participate and learn an instrument, thereby improving on both their attendance and grades. After this event the booster committee will talk about the possibility that these children can try something fun and interesting and make a commitment to the band. The committee will then distribute information to the children about our instrument donation program, which these students would not have known about, but for having participated in this Real World Experience. Given the statistics for our community above, we feel that this portion of our program will contribute the most to the students in our community. It has been shown that children exposed to a long term music education program are 85 percent more likely to come to school each day, and learning becomes easier for those students.  
  5. Giving Back:  We are lucky enough to have some of the best role models right here in our band program. The MCSC Program would like to give back to our community by holding three food drives per year. We will schedule these food drives right before our school breaks, by putting bins in the front office, band room And The First Baptist Church in Eustis. The students of The Advanced Band will be involved in the organization, collection and delivery of the collected food. The students will also donate clothing throughout the year to local shelters.
  6. Music Mentors: Music Mentors is a program shared by Eustis High School and the Eustis Middle School Bands. Directors Mr. Ricke of the Eustis Mustangs and Mr. Flenner of The Eustis Panthers created this program to ensure quality music education and performance through mentor-ship. The desire to develop a greater appreciation for the art of music and by giving the next generation an opportunity to receive the best training possible in music education by their peers. Through strategic partnerships, music awareness, and quality teaching, these bands are in the process of building a music program worthy of national and international recognition. Music Mentors is a Bi-weekly program. Any middle school student can sign up, he or she lists what they want or need for example: assistance with the all-state audition, jazz music etc.
  7. The Music Mentor Program is meant to help those who want to advance at a faster rate.
  8. The Music Mentor Program provides a transition into the high school program
  9. It is a fun way to learn from your older piers.
  10. It give the middle school students a chance to get together with piers that play the same instrument as they play in a personal setting.
  11. One on One setting with a “big brother/sister ” environment.
  12. Recruits students into the high school band.
  13. The high school students come early and sit in with the middle school students during their band classes.
7. Mustang/Panther Connection: Statistics prove that younger students who are active in a long term music program become better college students. We are therefore implementing The EMMA Award!  A $250.00-500.00 scholarship that will be presented to a student graduating Eustis High School with a GPA of 3.5 or above and who has been an active participant in the Mustang/Panther band program, grades 6th through 12th. This will be presented by the Eustis Mustang Music Association, bringing full circle our commitment to give back to the community through our MSCS program. 

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