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West Chester Area School District’s Music Education Program Receives National Recognition

The West Chester Area School District has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education. Now in its 24th year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.

To qualify for the Best Communities designation, the WCASD answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs. Responses were verified by school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

“Participation in the arts is greatly encouraged by our educators, administrators, and community. We see evidence of this through our student participation in music ensembles, with thousands of students participating in band, chorus, and orchestra each year,” said Kristen Barnello, Assistant to the Director of Secondary Education. “Our music educators are phenomenal musicians in their own right, and through their musicianship foster a lifelong love of music in each of our students.”

Since the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015 and a stated emphasis on a well-rounded education, many school districts have re-committed to music and arts education programs. During the pandemic, music and arts programs were a vital component to keeping students engaged in school. ESSA provides designated funding for well-rounded educational opportunities through Title IV Part A Student Academic Success and Achievement grants. NAMM Foundation research has revealed that these grants are being widely used by school districts to address instructional gaps in access to music and arts education.

“The greatest joy of being a music teacher is watching your students perform something that they have worked very hard to achieve, ” said Jonathan Kreamer, District Music Department Lead and Director of Choirs and Musicals at Henderson High School.

Research into music education continues to demonstrate cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music: After two years of music education, researchers found that participants showed more substantial improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores than their less-involved peers and that students who are involved in music are not only more likely to graduate high school but also to attend college as well. In addition, everyday listening skills are stronger in musically trained children than in those without music training. Significantly, listening skills are closely tied to the ability to: perceive speech in a noisy background, pay attention, and keep sounds in memory. Later in life, individuals who took music lessons as children show stronger neural processing of sound: young adults and even older adults who have not played an instrument for up to 50 years show enhanced neural processing compared to their peers. Not to mention, social benefits include conflict resolution, teamwork skills, and how to give and receive constructive criticism.

About The West Chester Area School District

The West Chester Area School District serves more than 12,000 students in a 75-square-mile suburban, urban, and rural region in central Chester County, Pennsylvania known for its many diversified businesses and beautiful historic countryside. The district’s mission is to “The mission of the West Chester Area School District is to educate and inspire our students to achieve their personal best.” For more information about the WCASD, please visit

About The NAMM Foundation

The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its 15,000 member companies and individual professionals. The foundation advances active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving, and public service programs. For more information about The NAMM Foundation, please visit