University Musical Society gives Carpenter Elementary ‘DTE Energy Foundation School of the Year’ Award

Carpenter art teacher Meredith Giltner, Principal Charles Davis Jr., and music teacher Laura Machida.
Carpenter art teacher Meredith Giltner, Principal Charles Davis Jr., and music teacher Laura Machida.

The University Musical Society named Carpenter Elementary its “DTE Energy Foundation School of the Year” for its dedication and commitment to arts education. The DTE Energy Foundation generously supports this award through a financial commitment to UMS’s Youth Education Program.

UMS highlighted two teachers, art teacher Meredith Giltner and music teacher Laura Machida, for working to integrate the arts into school curriculum.

Machida obtained grants and solicited parent donations to ensure that students from Carpenter Elementary, a Title 1 school, can attend UMS School Day performances. Giltner is an active participant in UMS Teacher Workshops and founded the after-school gardening program. She also created an art sale to benefit a bereaved family in the school community. 

Both teachers have worked with general education teachers at Carpenter to make connections in social studies and science, and they shared their knowledge of these pedagogies at the 2012 Michigan Music Conference and the 2012 Michigan Art Educators Conference, respectively.

“UMS is thoroughly impressed with the work that Carpenter Elementary is doing,” said UMS President Ken Fischer. “The arts provide an immediate and deeply-felt gateway to different world views and different moments in history, and they demonstrate the very best in human achievement. The arts contextualize and reinterpret our world and draw from many different skill sets to do so; exposure to the arts can help young students do the same. Carpenter Elementary School understands this, bettering the lives of young people and the community at large.”

Carpenter Principal Charles Davis is also impressed with Machida and Giltner. “I’m extremely excited about this award because the work that we do with our students is being recognized,” he said. “The teachers here go above and beyond to push the students to do things that I feel are remarkable.”

“I think our students are really talented,” Giltner said, “so it’s amazing to me to see every year how much they grow. I think that integration of arts with science and social studies is really helpful for them.”

“I love UMS that always has helped us, for the last 20 years, support integrating the arts and studies,” Machida said. “It’s been wonderful.”

The DTE Energy Foundation is the philanthropic arm of DTE Energy. The Foundation directs its contributions and involvement to support initiatives dedicated to developing the human and economic potential of the communities it serves.

One of the oldest performing arts presenters in the country, the University Musical Society (UMS) is now in its 134th season. With a program steeped in music, dance, and theater performed at the highest international standards of quality, UMS contributes to a vibrant cultural community by presenting approximately 60-75 performances and over 100 free educational and community activities each season. The UMS Education and Community Engagement Program reaches up to 25,000 children and adults each year through a diverse mix of initiatives and educational events. These programs give many students their first opportunities to experience the live performing arts. UMS continues to take a leadership role in advocating for transformative arts education experiences for our community.

Ypsilanti Public Schools band director Matt Kazmierski as the 2013 DTE Energy Foundation Educator of the Year. Both Kazmierski and Carpenter Elementary were nominated through a public nomination process.  The awards will be formally presented during the 18th Annual Ford Honors Gala (benefiting UMS Education and Community Engagement programs) on Saturday, March 16, 2013. The Ford Honors Gala will take place in the Michigan League (911 N. University Ave., Ann Arbor) on the University of Michigan campus and follows a Hill Auditorium concert by Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble.

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