Stillwater Public Schools’ Music Education Program Receives National Recognition for 4th Consecutive Year

Story provided by Stillwater Public Schools

The NAMM Foundation has honored Stillwater Public Schools with the Best Communities for Music Education designation for its outstanding commitment to music education. 754 school districts across the country received this designation for 2020, SPS is the only Oklahoma district to receive the distinction this year.

Now in its 21st year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students. To qualify for the Best Communities designation, SPS answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, and support for the music programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by the Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

“The outstanding work being done by our music educators at all sites, the commitment of the Board of Education and the community of Stillwater to arts education, along with the incredible talent and dedication exhibited by our students makes Stillwater’s music program truly exceptional. Receiving this designation serves not only as an acknowledgement of the current work being done, but, as the only district in Oklahoma to receive this honor, serves as a signal to those teachers and students looking for outstanding music education that Stillwater is the place to be,” says SPS Superintendent Dr. Marc Moore. 

This award recognizes that SPS is leading the way with learning opportunities as outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The legislation guides implementation in the states and replaces the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) which was often criticized for an overemphasis on testing-while leaving behind subjects such as music. ESSA recommends music and the arts as important elements of a well-rounded education for all children.  

“I am incredibly proud to work in a district that has such strong support for our programs,” says Director of Bands Kevin Zamborksy, “Music education enhances student learning in so many ways: fostering cognitive and emotional growth, increasing student engagement, raising test scores, building collaborative skills, and, of course, enriching students’ lives.”

Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music. After two years of music education, researchers found that participants showed more substantial improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores than their less-involved peers and that students who are involved in music are not only more likely to graduate high school, but also to attend college as well. Everyday listening skills are stronger in musically-trained children than in those without music training. Significantly, listening skills are closely tied to the ability to: perceive speech in a noisy background, pay attention, and keep sounds in memory. Later in life, individuals who took music lessons as children show stronger neural processing of sound; young adults and even older adults who have not played an instrument for up to 50 years show enhanced neural processing compared to their peers. Not to mention, social benefits include conflict resolution, teamwork skills, and how to give and receive constructive criticism.

About Stillwater Public Schools

As one of the top-performing districts in Oklahoma, Stillwater Public Schools champions the academic and personal growth of every student. Through a deep commitment to quality instruction, numerous student activities and organizations, and an embrace of the arts and technology, Stillwater Public Schools serves a diverse enrollment of more than 6,300 students attending 10 individual campuses. Dr. Marc Moore serves as the district’s superintendent alongside a board of five individuals representing various community wards. For additional district information, please visit

 About The NAMM Foundation

The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its approximately 10,400 members around the world. The foundation advances active participation in music-making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving, and public service programs. For more information about the NAMM Foundation, please visit