Growing up in Westchester County, the reopening of The Capitol Theatre was a big deal. No more worrying about that last train home from the city. The best touring acts were now in everyone’s backyard.
When Peter Shapiro, owner of the the theatre, asked HeadCount to create a charity program specifically for the Cap a little under 2 years ago, I was excited at the chance to give back to the community that raised me through this exciting new opportunity. More specifically, it meant giving back to the educators that played such a big role in creating who I am today.
We created the Capitol Community Fund as a way of sending local teachers to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum (Rock Hall for those in the know!) for intimate training on how to keep music in the classroom. We auction the Presidential Box for each show and all the proceeds go to getting the teachers to Cleveland.
Workshops focus on how to use music as a tool to make lessons in all subjects accessible to all students, regardless of demographic or background.
In our first year, we sent 3 teachers. This year we tripled that - sending 10.
Sometimes its hard to really grasp how much of an impact this program has had on the teachers that attend the program. What does a trip to the Rock Hall do for a teacher? I had the honor of joining the educators this year in Cleveland, spending part of the day with them in class.
The segment that really resonated with me was “Fight the Power”: Music as a Social Force. I listened as the Rock Hall staff (no joke, they know EVERYTHING about music) helped our teachers dissect a number of songs - from Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” to Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”. I realized that I have been listening to songs for over 20 years without ever really knowing what they meant.
Later on we got to explore the museum and I couldn't help but smile as I watched a handful of our educators race over to the display of all the Jerry guitars. In the spirit of The Cap & of HeadCount - it really all came full circle in that moment.
I got half a day in Cleveland, but I left wanting so much more. I was left inspired to learn everything about my favorite bands, and the role that they have played in developing our society. But for the teachers - this experience went so much deeper. Mary Barresi, one of our 2014 scholarship recipients left me with this after her trip:
“The entire experience really made me feel that ‘teaching’ appeared important again, it reminded me of why I love what I do.”
And that is what makes it all worthwhile.
Big thanks to everyone who played a role in making this year so successful: Stephanie Heriger & the entire Rock Hall staff; Pete Shapiro, Jon Healey, Tom Bailey, Anya Cheskin, Brett Fairbrother, Stefanie May & the entire family at The Capitol Theatre; and a very special thanks to the educators who continue to shape our youth into caring and passionate young adults.
Read more about the teacher’s time at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum via The Journal News by clicking here.