• The young musicians at Ockley Green

    Richard Littledyke’s music class at Ockley Green Middle School is frequently the first place his students have ever received music instruction. And at no fault of the students. Three of the schools that feed into Ockley Green have only a half-time music teacher (Chief Joseph, Peninsula and King) and Beach, the last feeder school, doesn’t have a music teacher or program.

    “It’s an incredible honor to show these students that they have musical potential,” Littledyke says. “They’re learning basic music theory and how to read music. So by the time they head off to high school, they have a new area of study they can explore.”

    But funding can sometimes be scarce. The resources provided through the school’s budget is enough to keep the program running, but to expand his curriculum, Littledyke has to get creative with fundraising.

    This year, Littledyke set up a fundraising campaign with Donor’s Choose, a nonprofit that helps teachers at public schools across the country crowdsource funding for projects in their classrooms. Teachers can request anything they need for their students, from funding for a set of new books, to cameras for a photography class, to butterfly cocoons for a unit on butterflies in a science class. Once the money is raised, Donor’s Choose purchases the supplies to make sure that the money is being used for the project described, and ships them directly to the teacher.

    Littledyke’s campaign requested music stands and books, and described the eventual need for more ukuleles. At the time of the campaign, he only had half of a classroom set of ukuleles, forcing students to partner up and take turns with the instrument.

    “We’ve made due with sharing instruments in the past, but it’s difficult to keep a student’s attention when they’re waiting for their partner to finish their turn with the ukulele,” Littledyke says.

    The Donor’s Choose project was partially fulfilled, and Littledyke received the music stands and books. Someone (Littledyke isn’t sure who) saw that his students still needed the ukuleles and called Jackie Stone, a member of the Cascade Harmony Chorus. She was touched by the plea in Littledyke’s campaign and sent a $5,000 check to Ockley Green for use by the music program.

    Thanks to Stone’s donation, the music students at Ockley Green have a full set of ukuleles. And the remaining resources went to the budget for the 42-student band program that Littledyke built from the ground up.

    “I sometimes get a little teary when I try and talk about (my students),” Littledyke says. “It really is a huge honor to show these kids their potential. I get emails all the time from parents, thanking me for introducing their kids to music. For showing them what they can create.”

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