Transformational Change With An Entrepreneurial Spirit: Get To Know Rachel McGrain (Baltimore ’13) And The Green Street Academy Music Program
Earlier this month, we sat down with TFA alumna Rachel McGrain to learn how engaging in one of TFA Baltimore’s learning communities has supported her development and mission in creating music programs across Baltimore’s schools.
November 30, 2017
What need or problem did you want to address by starting a music program?
Rachel: During my first two years of teaching, I realized that many schools had no opportunities for students to become involved with music. Given my passion for music and knowing how beneficial learning an instrument can be for students’ personal and intellectual growth, I began exploring how I could bring music programs to all middle and high schools in Baltimore.
How did you start the program?
Rachel: I initially drafted a proposal to create a school music program and sent it out to schools across Baltimore. Green Street Academy loved my idea and hired me to launch their music program. At first, I taught music classes during the school day and then led an after-school band program – the Lightning Bolts Band. We started with just body and bucket drumming. Through fundraising and donations of instruments from generous supporters, my students are also learning to play wind and percussion instruments.
How did participating in the Non-Profit Partnership and Creation Learning Community support your development and mission in bringing music programs across Baltimore?
Rachel: I was able to build the skills and knowledge of how to create a non-profit. The learning community supported my vision and development and this year I was able to expand the music program to introduce nearly 30 students to the joy of playing an instrument. I was also able to build the Green Street Academy music program to include both the Lightning Bolts Band and a drumline team.
How has the music program impacted your students?
Rachel: With the expansion of the program, more students have been able to participate. This year, we have nearly 30 students from 6th to 9th grade who are part of the band, drumline, or both. My students are excited and motivated to be here and that carries over into their classes. In addition, I’ve seen my students develop a stronger sense of confidence and sense of belonging. My students are at a variety of academic levels – some are in our highest-level classes while others are in self-contained classes. However, in band, none of that matters – they can all learn to play an instrument and be part of something special.