Music teacher Ashton Mooday leads Rock Hall Elementary School students through the song "Pompeii" by Bastille on bucket drums during the May Kent County Board of Education meeting. Visible at the table are, from left, Board of Education President Joseph Goetz, Superintendent Dr. Karen Couch and board member Trish McGee.
By ASHTON MOODAY
My name is Ashton Mooday. I am one of the newest music teachers for Kent County Public Schools.
I have the privilege of working at both Rock Hall and Galena elementary schools.
It wasn’t too long ago that I was a student in KCPS. I graduated in 2015.
I’ve known I wanted to be a teacher since I was 6 years old but it was KCPS that made me fall in love with music and pushed me to go to school for music education.
In the midst of the pandemic, I got a message from Kris Hemstetter, then principal at Rock Hall Elementary School, asking me if I was interested in applying for a music position at KCPS.
I told her I’d love to but it wasn’t the right time for me. I was going through some things, bouncing back from a tough first year of teaching, being laid off from a teaching job abroad and evaluating my future as an educator.
A year later she reached out to me, I took a chance, the stars had aligned and I decided to take the job.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that this has been the best decision I have made.
A lot of people grow up in Kent County and try to get far away after graduation. They look for something bigger, grass that’s greener and better opportunities.
I tried that but ultimately Kent County had a way of pulling me back.
While it has been a tough school year for most of us, I have thoroughly enjoyed my first year teaching in KCPS.
It has restored my faith that I’m meant to be a teacher and this is where I want to plant my roots.
I have been welcomed with open arms and supported by my administration and colleagues. I have gained two work families and truly feel like I am working for a district that values myself and my skills.
I have also witnessed our students grow to love music and learn in a new exciting way.
They are so resilient and while I hope they are learning in my classes, I learn more and more from them each and every day.
This year, the district adopted Quaver as its elementary and middle school music curriculum.
I don’t think anyone realizes that prior to this year, we didn’t really have a music curriculum.
This is the case for many districts across the country.
We had supplemental resources and a rough guide that outlined what content we would teach, but that was it.
Quaver has been absolutely fantastic because it has built-in lessons, lesson plans, songs, units, scope and sequence, social-emotional learning and so much more.
The students really love it too!
It has built in rewards and incentives for them on top of all the learning resources.
When I was out on medical leave this year, I was able to assign work to the students that aligned with their scope and sequence. I could monitor their progress from home, give them feedback and provide the substitute with the tools and resources they needed to run music class in my absence.
It has been a life saver and I’m so excited for us to have this.
I would like to take a moment to thank some of the people that have made it such a successful year for elementary music education in our schools!
Thank you to the Kent County Board of Education who has provided funding for us to restock our music rooms with updated and modern instruments.
The students learn best and have the most fun when they are experiencing music with resources and equipment that reflects the world they are currently living in.
The Board of Education has also invested in making music more accessible to our students with disabilities who learn with resources, instruments and technology that is tailored to their needs.
Thank you to the Kent Cultural Alliance, which has supported the arts tremendously in our schools this year.
We value the relationship that we have with the Kent Cultural Alliance and the students have been able to express their creativity more because of its generosity and collaboration.
Thank you to the Kala Brand Music Co., which donated 24 ukuleles to Galena Elementary School this year. The kids are loving them.
Thank you to Lowes, Home Depot and JBK Ace Hardware for generously donating classroom sets of bucket drums so that our students can experience making music in a new exciting way.
Thank you to the parents of our students who are supporting our endeavors to benefit their children’s educations, helping us out in the schools, bringing their children to rehearsals and concerts and advocating for our teachers.
Thank you to my incredibly supportive and welcoming administration and staff who truly work hard every day to better the students’ educations and make learning more fun.
I look forward to continuing to build relationships with the students, staff and community here in Kent County — and continuing to grow our programs to create more creative opportunities for our students here at Kent County Public Schools.
Rock Hall Elementary School students sing "Count on Me" by Bruno Mars at the May Kent County Board of Education meeting. They were led by music teacher Ashton Mooday, who graduated from Kent County Public Schools herself.
Family and community members enjoy a musical performance by Rock Hall Elementary School students at the May Kent County Board of Education meeting. Music teacher Aston Mooday, center, led the students through the Bastille song "Pompeii" on bucket drums.