Iqaluit principal wins national award for music education
Tracey MacMillan earns $1,500 to benefit Nakasuk School programs
Music has long been an important part of the curriculum at Nakasuk Elementary School in Iqaluit.
As school principal for the past three years, Tracey MacMillan has not only helped keep it that way. She has also expanded the school’s promotion of music in education.
For her efforts, MacMillan earned a Principals of Music Award from the Coalition for Music Education, a national organization dedicated to promoting music education throughout the country. The National Arts Centre in Ottawa sponsors the award through its Music Alive Program.
Nakasuk students and Darlene Nuqingaq, president of the Iqaluit Music Society, presented the award to the principal in a short ceremony at the school, Jan 22.
“It was a complete surprise,” MacMillan said of her win, which included a cheque for $1,500. “It’s very exciting for Nakasuk School. The award did come with a monetary donation, and that will go towards our fine arts programming.”
Music and song are included in much of the curriculum at Nakasuk, even in phys-ed and math classes, she said.
“You’ll hear songs and poems in language arts classes — and part of learning Inuktitut,” said MacMillan, who has worked as a teacher and educational administrator in the territory for more than 14 years. “It’s just incorporated into all our curriculum areas.”
In phys-ed class, teachers use music as part of warm-up, she said. You’ll also hear singing in English and Inuktitut in the school’s classrooms. All of this encourages student learning, she said, not to mention participation in the school’s production of arts performances.
“I’ve enjoyed watching the students successes,” said MacMillan. “It increases their self-esteem and their attachment to school, and it’s positive.”
The principal also expanded the school’s collaboration with arts organizations and musicians, said Nuqingaq, who helped nominate MacMillan for the award.
“Tracey’s always welcomed outside organizations into the school,” Nuqingaq said.
The principal has helped broaden Nakasuk School’s involvement in Iqaluit’s arts scene, to the benefit of the community and staff as well as the students, she added.
Also, in her three years at the school, MacMillan has succeeded in attracting investment and upgrading Nakasuk’s equipment for arts productions and performances.
“If you invest in those kinds of resources that will last and enhance, and promote – then that helps the kids to stay interested too,” Nuqingaq said.
“In education, the three Rs are very important – reading, writing and arithmetic,” she quipped. “I’d like to add a fourth – arts,” she laughed.
“I believe in the arts, particularly music education,” Nuqingaq said. “It’s lifelong skills, so that kids, whether they go on to be musicians or not, the skills that they learn through music education can apply to any field that they choose to take.”