NAMM Foundation lists 4 OC districts among the best for music education

Four Orange County districts have been recognized among the Best Communities for Music Education by the NAMM Foundation, which also presented awards to three local campuses.

Now in its 20th year, the national awards program annually spotlights districts and schools that prioritize high-quality music education, as well as student access.

Best Communities logoThe Anaheim Elementary School District, the Capistrano Unified School District and the Garden Grove Unified School District all made the Best Communities list for 2019, as did the Irvine Unified School District, which was honored for the seventh straight year — and the eighth time since 2010.

“This honor is indicative of IUSD’s unwavering commitment to the arts and music education,” said Brad Van Patten, Irvine Unified’s fine arts coordinator. “Despite being one of the lowest funded school districts in the nation, fine arts have flourished in IUSD schools under the Board of Education’s visionary leadership.”

Across the U.S., 623 districts earned the designation based on the efforts of their teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders to make music part of a well-rounded education.

In addition, less than 100 schools received the SupportMusic Merit Award from the NAMM Foundation for their commitment to music education. They include La Paz Intermediate School in Mission Viejo, Parks Junior High School in Fullerton and Arbolita Elementary School Visual and Performing Arts Academy in La Habra.

“Together with the Lang Lang Foundational Grant for our piano lab and our partnership with the Segerstrom Center, Disney Musicals and The Kennedy Center Any Given Child, Arbolita Elementary is well on its way to becoming a leader in visual and performing arts schools in Orange County,” said La Habra music teacher Betsy Olson.

“The dedicated staff at Arbolita Elementary School works so collaboratively to bring the arts to the students of the La Habra community,” she said.

To qualify for the Best Communities for Music Education distinction, districts were required to answer detailed questions about their funding, staffing, curriculum, community support, participation, facilities and other factors that affect access and demonstrate a commitment to music education. Survey data was verified and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

Since its inception, more than 2,000 schools and districts have submitted a survey for evaluation. To learn more about the Best Communities for Music Education program or the NAMM Foundation, visit