March 2, 2017
Like many campuses in the Richardson Independent School District, Skyview Elementary is a bustling, busy school – a dynamic environment for its multicultural, ethnically diverse student body. When music specialist Austin Aeschbacher arrived four years ago approximately 8 languages were spoken on campus. Today that number stands at 40.
With a minor in Spanish from Baylor University, Austin says initially he felt comfortable speaking with students who spoke Spanish. “Now that we have more students from around the world, the challenge I face as an educator is effectively communicating with all of them,” he said.
Aeschbacher’s team teacher and fellow music specialist Stephanie Miller agrees and says it’s about much more than music. It’s about breaking barriers. “Many of our students come into music not sure of themselves,” she said. “Some come to class tired, hungry, sick and starved for attention. No matter what situations our students are encountering outside of Skyview, we are charged with the responsibility of encouraging them, teaching them and loving them.”
“We want our students to be the best, and we believe they can be.”
- Austin Aeschbacher
Together Miller and Aeschbacher rise to the challenge daily. Looking for new ways to reach and better understand their students, they formed small groups based on individual needs and now spend time with students before and after school and during lunch. Stephanie created multisensory strategies for use in the classroom and began researching teaching strategies in urban schools. She now leads staff development programs for other music educators – most recently presenting a session at the Texas Music Educators Association conference with Aeschbacher entitled, “Bach, Beyoncé, Beyond: Two Worlds Collide.”
Their unique team approach has led to a 98.9% pass rate in district music assessments – the highest among RISD’s 41 elementary school campuses. Austin’s work leading to this achievement is in addition to volunteering with the Skyview Elementary PTA, preparing grant proposals for instructional technology and field trips, and overseeing invention education initiatives like RISD summer camps and STEM competitions.
“The goal is not only to teach these students about music, or even language and socialization skills,” says Aeschbacher. “We want our students to be the best, and we believe they can be.” #IAmTXEd #txed #risdgreatness
“The students wanted to make this day ‘so huge’ that it would have an impact and that the message would be remembered. They hope that this will start a movement on which others will build, and that this day will be talked about for years to come. They also speak about wanting our district to be one of ‘radical inclusiveness’ where everyone is kind to each other – every day.”
- Dr. Jeannie Stone, RISD Superintendent, on the district’s recent “Kindness Day”
“A trip like this, especially with the tours and places we get to visit, will, I believe, shed a different light and give us different perspective on our nation and its history. It is one thing to read about these places and events in a book, but getting to study them and experience them up close is a completely different story.”
- LHHS Wildcat Wrangler Erin Moudy, on performing for the Presidential Inauguration
“When you can put kids in an authentic work environment that is a skill that you can’t duplicate in a traditional brick and mortar school. You can have the same equipment, you can have the same teachers, you can have the same resources, but you can’t give them the vision of walking into a working hospital.”
- Sandra Hayes, the district’s assistant superintendent of district operations, to the Dallas Morning News during the Open House for RISD’s new Health Science Program at Methodist Richardson Medical Center