With a Little Help from My Friends

LMEA Board Meeting

I had the pleasure of attending the board meeting for the Louisiana Music Educators Association (L.M.E.A.) on Saturday, October 3, 2015. The L.M.E.A. board consists of four Executive Officers, nine District Directors, three Ex-Officio Members, and eight Division Chairs (Public Relations, Band, Vocal, Orchestra, Jazz, Elementary, University, and Collegiate NAfME). Also in attendance were representatives from the Louisiana Band Masters Association (LBA), Louisiana Association of Kodaly Educators (L.A.K.E), Louisiana Choral Directors Association (LAACDA), Louisiana Association for Jazz Education (LAJE), American String Teachers Association (ASTA), and Red Stick Orff.

The President, Sharon McNamara-Horne, asked me to speak at the beginning of the meeting regarding my activities as the Louisiana State Teacher of the Year. Next, the Past President, Dr. Sara Bidner, shared a report from the Southern Division of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). In her report, she expressed her concern that only 47% of the music educators in Louisiana are members of L.M.E.A. However, the Tri-M Music Honor Society, a division of NAfME for sixth-twelfth grade students, has doubled its membership in Louisiana. Fran Hebert, the President Elect, then stated her goal for this year is to increase membership in L.M.E.A. Among the ideas that were discussed to encourage membership, she mentioned creating a mentor program for new teachers at every grade level.

Next, each District Director and Division Chair gave a report. This was followed by an in-depth discussion regarding the audition process for All State Band, Choir, Orchestra, and Jazz Band Festival that will be taking place in November.

Along with the All State Festivals, L.M.E.A. is preparing for their state professional development conference in November. James Hearne, the Conference Chair, distributed the schedule for the clinicians for the conference. As changes to the schedule were discussed, I was happy to see the number of clinicians and the variety of topics that will be of interest to the elementary music educators.

As the meeting concluded, I thought of The Beatles tune, “With a Little Help from My Friends.” It was clear to see the devotion to strengthening music education in Louisiana in each of the attendees. However, we can only do so by forming a team and giving “a little help” to our friends.

True Colors

Fair 3 

I am looking forward to attending the St. Tammany Parish Fair this weekend. The first activity on my agenda will be going to check out Woodlake Elementary School’s booth. Each school in the parish creates an educational exhibit for the fair. The theme for this year’s fair is “Innovation, Inspiration, and Imagination.”

For the past month, I have been inspired by the imagination and innovation that has been taking place in the art room under the guidance of our art teacher, Ms. Angele’ Thompson. Our school’s theme for this year is Superheroes: “Where Everybody Soars”. As superheroes are also imaginative, innovative, and inspirational, the students have been creating art for the booth based on our “Superhero” theme. They have made amazing skyscrapers with recycled boxes while using paper towel roles to make their drawings of superheroes pop out. I have listened to their conversations about onomatopoeia and laughed when the students identified my own name, “Stomps”, as an example. Ms. Thompson also taught her students about character as they discussed the character traits of heroes. However, the most touching creations for the booth are the cards where students wrote about the heroes in their lives.

On behalf of all of the students and teachers at Woodlake Elementary School, I would like to say a special thank you to Ms. Thompson for inspiring all of us with her passion for teaching art. As Cyndi Lauper sings, “(We) see your true colors shining through” and they “are beautiful, like a rainbow”.

Did an art teacher inspire you? Please share your stories on my Facebook page- Kelly Stomps 2016 Louisiana State Teacher of the Year or on Twitter @Kelly Stomps.

Fair 2

That’s What Friends Are For

Twice a year, each teacher is observed by an administrator and evaluated with a rubric based on the following areas: Planning and Preparation, The Classroom Environment, and Instruction. On September 29, 2015, new teachers and many veteran teachers at Woodlake Elementary School attended an informal session where three teachers and I shared tips for the observation process.

For my presentation, I spoke about the instructional techniques that I use to help guide the students’ discussions with their peers. From sentence starters to visuals in my room, there are many resources that I use to help steer the students’ conversations about music. Next, I revealed the methods I use to check for student understanding. My favorite method is self-evaluations where I ask students to rate their participation and performance. In addition, the students are asked to pinpoint things that they did well in class along with identifying things that they would change or need more help with in the future.

Next, Ms. Sambola and Ms. Coffey, second grade teachers, talked about the strategies they use for grouping students and for differentiating instruction. Both stressed that students need to be able to make “choices” in order to make sure all students are engaged and confident in their learning.

Ms. Schoen, a gifted teacher, disclosed the small group techniques that she uses while working with her second and third grade students. She also had a “Reading Ticket” with items the students had to complete while giving choices over the other items that are completed.

As the meeting concluded, I thought of how much each teacher shared and what I learned. As Dionne Warwick sings in “That’s What Friends Are For”, the teachers at Woodlake Elementary school are certainly friends that I can count on for inspiration.

Make Someone Happy

I love Jimmy Durante’s song, “Make Someone Happy”. Our goal as teachers is to make our students “happy” and excited about learning. There are many ways the faculty and staff at Woodlake Elementary School create a “happy” environment for our students. On September 23, 2015, Channel 13 came to film one of my school’s greatest tools for building a positive school community- our morning meeting. Every day, our school-wide morning meeting begins with the “Pledge of Allegiance” followed by the school singing a patriotic tune like “You’re a Grand Old Flag” or “This Land is Your Land”. We recognize birthdays and then a third grade student will share the cafeteria menu for that day.

Next, Ms. Parker, our principal, and the teachers share the daily announcements. My favorite moments are when students are recognized for accomplishments that take place in and out of school. From trophies earned in sports to praises for aWESome work in class, I love to see the pride in the students’ eyes as they are acknowledged.

Each Wednesday, a class puts on a skit to serve as a reminder for our positive behavior expectations. This week, Ms. Kennedy’s class presented a song about “Classroom Rules” to the tune of “We Will Rock You”. I can’t wait to see how Ms. Whittington’s class shares “Playground Safety” next week.

The time leading up to our morning meeting is also extremely special. I have the pleasure in leading the students in songs before the school day begins. Our morning playlists includes our school songs and the theme song for the year, “Everyday Heroes”. We also do songs that include African drumming patterns while rapping about character traits and seasonal tunes. Without a doubt, the most requested song is Johnette Downing’s, “Feliciana LeRoux”.

Just as Durante sings, “Make just one someone happy and you will be happy too”, our morning meetings and sing-a-longs bring me such joy as we start each day on a positive note.

How will you make someone happy today? Please share your ideas on my Facebook page- Kelly Stomps 2016 Louisiana State Teacher of the Year or on Twitter @Kelly Stomps.

Who Dat Teacher!


On September 20, 2015, I could barely contain my excitement as I headed to the Saints opening game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Thanks to the Saints organization and Chevron, I was to be honored during the game as the “Teacher of the Week”.

The fun began as my principal, Ms. Lelia Parker, and I were escorted through Champions Square by my Assistant Principal, Ms. Tara Hernandez, and her family. As we stopped to take pictures in front of the Mercedes Benz Superdome, we ran into St. Tammany Parish School System’s Superintendent, Mr. Trey Folse. After a merry conversation, Ms. Parker and I set out to meet Nicole, our liaison with the Saints organization.

As Nicole led us through the tunnel, I had to stop myself from running enthusiastically out onto the field. However, my reaction once I got onto the field was one of awe. All I could do was stand and take in everything from the sounds filling the Superdome to the feel of the turf under my feet. While the kickers were warming up behind us, I had to force myself to concentrate as I did a short interview for the School System Communications Department. Next, Nicole led us to a special area where Ms. Parker and I were treated to delicious food. From the table decorations to the courteous staff, Ms. Parker and I were spoiled by the royal treatment.

After our delightful meal, we were led to our seats and the game began. As the clock ticked down in the first quarter, my anticipation began to grow as I had been informed that the recognition would take place during the second quarter. Just before the start of the second quarter, Nicole came to make sure we were ready for the big moment. A little while later, our area was surrounded by members of the Saints organization while a cameraman was kneeling before me on the steps. Suddenly, I saw my name being flashed across the Jumbotron. The moment was surreal as I watched the video of the lesson that had been filmed in August being broadcasted throughout the Superdome. All of a sudden, Nicole signaled to start waving to the crowd, and I was overwhelmed to hear the thunderous applause.

View the video shown on the Jumbotron at the Game.

Despite the final score, my mood was optimistic as I hummed to myself “I Believe” by Harrison Avenue while exiting the Superdome. Not only do I believe that the Saints can still go “all the way”, I believe that my students can go “all the way” to incredible achievements too.

Happy Talk

They best song to describe the third week of September is “Happy Talk” from South Pacific. On Wednesday morning, the members of the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) committee met in order to discuss proactive measures we can take in regards to behavior at Woodlake Elementary School. Our Assistant Principal, Ms. Tara Hernandez, led the discussion as we looked at the discipline data for the first month of school. The committee then brainstormed ideas to prevent these behaviors from occurring in the future. We also discussed “Booster Lessons” that will positively reinforce the school rules.

On Thursday, Channel 13 came to film part of my lesson with Ms. Jones’ third grade class. The kids were extremely proud to share a song that we are preparing for a performance that integrates math. They also played a “Telephone Game” with rhythm for the video. Following the lesson, I was interviewed by Dr. Melody Swang with Channel 13 regarding the lesson and my beliefs about teaching. The video will be shared at the St. Tammany Parish School Board meeting on October 8, 2015.

I am looking forward to our second Red Stick Orff Chapter workshop that will take place in Lafayette, Louisiana on Saturday, September 19, 2015. The Red Stick Orff Chapter is an organization that is dedicated to providing professional development and collaboration for music teachers in Southeast Louisiana. As a member of the board, I have been asked to share “Songs We Like to Sing”. Although the theme sounds simple, it has been difficult for me to choose which song I would like to present. There are so many songs I love to teach! I have decided to share the folk song “Draw Me a Bucket” from the song book Jump Jim Joe by Peter and Mary Alice Amidon. The book includes a movement game that the students love. I also chose the song because the students can make a connection to math with the movement game.

Yes, it has been a week filled with “Happy Talk” as I’ve been “(talking) about things (I) like to do”!

“Let Your Imagination Fly”

In “Defying Gravity” from Wicked, I love the words, “Everyone deserves the chance to fly”. This year the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) is encouraging all students to “Let Your Imagination Fly” in their Reflections contest. Students may submit entries in photography, visual arts, dance choreography, film production, literature, and music composition. For their “Arts in Education Week”, I was asked by the Woodlake Elementary School PTA to speak to the school regarding the music composition category.

I began with asking the students to think about what the theme “Let Your Imagination Fly” means to them. Even though the composition doesn’t have to include words, I told the students to make a list of words regarding the theme. After creating the list, the students should then practice clapping and speaking the words to find the best rhythm for the composition.

Next, I asked the students to consider the best means for performing the rhythm of their words- voice or instruments. Although they may not have instruments in their home, I reminded the students that anything that makes a sound can be turned into an instrument. I encouraged the children to experiment with making sounds using objects in their home to discover the ones that sound best for their composition.

I also invited the students to create a B (contrasting) section for the piece. For example, they can switch from playing the words to speaking the words. After creating the B section, the students should decide the form for the piece- AB, AAB, or ABA.

My last tip was for the students to experiment with tempo (fast vs. slow) and dynamics (loud vs. soft). Which best fits the composition and the theme?

Although music notation is not required for the elementary level, I encouraged the children to submit notation with icons to represent the music notes- stickers, foam shapes, stamps, and/or pictures.

For the contest, the students are required to submit an audio recording (CD, DVD, or flash drive) for the composition. With today’s technology, anything from smartphones to computers can be used to create the recordings. For more information regarding the rules for recording, please see the following link:


Tips for recording audio with your smartphone:


I can’t wait to hear the sounds of your child’s imagination!

Patriot Day

Patriot Day

Woodlake Elementary School’s theme this year is “Superheroes: Where Everybody Soars”. Of course, this theme has really caught the interest of our young students. The classrooms and hallways are decorated with images of superheroes. Our PTA is now called the “Helping Heroes”, and we start each day with singing the song, “Everyday Heroes”. Although the superheroes theme has really sparked the students’ imagination, it is important for our students to understand the true meaning of being a hero. On September 11, 2015, I had the privilege to lead the students of Woodlake Elementary School in a presentation to honor the special heroes of our community.

Our Patriot Day program began with all of the students singing the chorus of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” Our Principal, Ms. Lelia Parker, then made a beautiful speech about this day where she stated that this is “the official day of remembrance for the tragic events that happened … on September 11, 2001”. Ms. Parker explained the purpose of flying the flag at half-staff, and she spoke about the heroes of our community- the first responders. Next, a poem about heroes was shared by students chosen from each of our third grade classes. This was followed by the entire school honoring our community heroes by singing a beautiful tune, “You Are Our Heroes”.

During our program today, we had the opportunity to honor fifty-six heroes of our community. These heroes are also the fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts and grandfathers of our little Pelicans. As each student was introduced along with their special hero, my heart was touched by the look of pride in each child’s eyes.

In our song, we told the heroes that “We’ve seen your light shine through”. Thank you to these brave men and women for sharing their light with the students of Woodlake Elementary School!

The songs “Everyday Heroes” and “You Are Our Heroes” can be found on the following website: http://www.musick8.com/

Purple Rain

On the field during the Pregame Show
On the field during the Pregame Show

All great teachers have the ability to plan effectively. We know the objective for the lesson and map out the strategies for helping our students learn that objective. From fire drills to a student getting ill in class, there are many things that may occur that may interfere with the plan for the lesson. One of my greatest strengths is the ability to adapt my lessons to the changes that may occur.

For September 5, 2015, the plan was for me to be recognized on the field for the Louisiana State University versus McNeese State football game. The day began at the LSU Football Indoor Practice Facility where I watched the Golden Band from Tigerland practice with my family. As a former member of the drumline, I was filled with pride as I observed the diligence and dedication of the band members. Next, my family and I headed over to the “Ultimate Tiger Tailgate” where we met Joni Lacy, my coordinator with the Louisiana State Department of Education. There we dined on delicious food and watched the cheerleaders perform. Later, we were treated to an exhilarating performance by the Tiger Band in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

My anticipation was growing as we proceeded to meet with Ben Heroman, the Chairman of the Dream Teachers organization, and his family. Our liaison with the LSU Athletic Department, Cody, led our eager group through the media entrance and out onto the field. It has been fifteen years since I stood on the field of Tiger Stadium. As the Tiger Band took the field for their pregame show, I was extremely grateful to be able to once again hear the roar of the crowd from the field. There is nothing else like it in the world. My eyes brimmed with tears as I proudly sang the words of our Alma Mater, and I thought of all that I had learned “where stately oaks and broad magnolias shade inspiring halls”.

Following the pregame show, we moved to stand closer to the twenty-five yard line where I was to be introduced at the second timeout of the game. During the first timeout, Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu were honored. As I debated asking the two to take a selfie with me, Cody informed us that we had to leave the field because lightning had been spotted. My thought as we left the field was, “Lightning? What lightning?”

As we waited in the tunnel, it wasn’t long before the weather conditions worsened. As we watched the merry fans dancing in the rain, we had a picnic on the floor of the tunnel. We shared stories and laughter as we held onto the hope that the game would commence.

Although the evening didn’t go as planned, it served as a great reminder that there will be storms in life. It’s how we face the storms that truly matters. Thank you to Cody, Joni, the Heroman family, and my family for adapting to the storm to create an evening filled with camaraderie and adventure. Even though the game was eventually cancelled, I will be forever grateful that I was in Death Valley the night it rained purple and the sky was filled with flashes of gold.

As for the recognition, I will now be recognized on the field during the LSU versus Arkansas game on November 14, 2015. Thank you to LSU for giving me another opportunity!

With Director Roy King at the Golden Band from Tigerland practice!
With Director Roy King at the Golden Band from Tigerland practice!

The More We Get Together

“The more we get together the happier we’ll be.” These lyrics of a children’s song, “The More We Get Together”, best expresses how I felt as I spoke to the Northlake Rotary Club on September 3, 2015. This was not my first time to speak before this organization. I have been twice honored as their “Educator of the Year” in 2008 and 2009. As I explained to the Rotarians, my acquaintance with the organization actually dates back to college where I worked as a server during the Baton Rouge Rotary Club meetings. I have been a long admirer of this organization and their motto “Service Above Self”. Each year, I have also witnessed the Rotary Club’s impact on Woodlake Elementary School as they give each third grade student a dictionary. My students are incredibly proud of their dictionaries and can be seen looking up words even while waiting in car line.

While speaking to the Northlake Rotary Club, I pointed out all of the technological advances that have occurred during my fifteen years of teaching. These advances have not only transformed how I teach but what I am teaching. As we are preparing students for the future, our focus in education is now centered on building the skills that the students will need to be successful in the 21st century: communication, collaboration, creativity, problem solving, and leadership. I shared with the members my strategies for developing these skills in music through small group composition projects along with revealing Woodlake Elementary School’s approach to building the future leaders of our community.

The lyrics of “The More We Get Together” also states, “For your friends are my friends and my friends are your friends”. The relationship between the Rotary Club and my school are the perfect example of these words. Thank you to President Stephen Satterlee and the Northlake Rotary Club for your commitment to serving the students of Woodlake Elementary School!