Through GITC sponsor, Saga Musical Instruments, Judy ordered 24 soprano ukuleles for her classroom. Our Tuning Archangel, Rodney Howard got them ready and we personally delivered them to the school to make sure everything arrived timely.
Judy wrote to GITC from her hospital bed, explaining what was going on. She worried that because of her health crisis, her kiddos had not learned to play despite the ukes being in a big box in their classroom. "I'm not sure who will be taking over my room, but I think they will begin on Monday, " she explained. " I made a promise to those kids to learn the ukulele and if you can help me out, well wonderful. Marissa Ramirez is the other first grade teacher who is my partner in crime. I have my own little uke and guitar here that cheer me up. I am so grateful for everyone's kindness."
We promised Judy that we would find a way to fund two weekly first grade teaching artist residencies in order that her promise to the children be fulfilled and her dream realized.
Thankfully, this came to pass when international online ukulele teacher Terry Carter, CEO of Uke Like the Pros contacted GITC and offered to raise money at the winter holidays by challenging his students to match him dollar for dollar in supporting music for children in Title 1 schools. Everyone chipped in raising just enough to send GITC Teaching Artist. Jefferson Jay to bring joy and learning to Judy's and Melissa's kids. Jefferson is one of the most convivial people you'd ever want to meet and he was up for the assignment.
GITC is grateful to the VAPA Foundation for their generous, ongoing support of teachers who voluntarily take our music integration courses. We are thankful for Saga Musical Instruments for making ukes so affordable for GITC teachers!
Thanks those organizations and to Judy Johnson, Terry Carter, Terry's students, and Jefferson Jay, between January and April, teachers and students in both first grades learned how to strum, sing, and write their own songs for learning!
Now Judy's love will live on every time a new first grader comes into their classroom at the beginning of the year and finds out that going to school at Johnson means learning through the power of song and the joy of making music.