Kevin Dorsey has been involved with music for his entire life. He felt as though his experience in high school made him a better person.
Today, music is still a major part of his life. Now, he has the opportunity to provide students that same opportunity.
“If I hadn’t been involved in my music programs, I wouldn’t be the person I am today,” Dorsey said.
With the Syracuse City School District, Dorsey has been able to give back to the children of Syracuse thanks to the changes made by the Fine Arts program over the past five years.
Such changes were brought by Fine Arts Director Sarah Gentile. After being a music teacher in the district, Gentile decided that she could bring more to the program as an administrator.
“There wasn’t a focus on equity across the districts,” Gentile said, “and that’s something I’m really passionate about, knowing what part of the city our students are from and that they get the same access to arts opportunities and experiences.”
Several schools on the West and South sides of the city did not have instrumental music teachers. Now, the instrumental music program is thriving and, most importantly, the Board of Education is noticing.
“We have more awareness among community members and parents and administrators on what the arts teachers are doing within the schools,” Gentile said. “And so there’s a lot more support and there’s a lot more opportunities for students to participate in and out of school.”
This has allowed teachers like Dorsey to expand the reach of their education and be creative with their work. With his fifth graders at Seymour Elementary School in Syracuse, Dorsey has started a ukulele club. Also, Dorsey’s students can use electronic drums with headphones so that they can learn rhythms and beats on their own without distracting other students.
However, Dorsey’s greatest accomplishment has to be the invention of his own instrument: the Dorseymer. A one-string guitar with attachable wooden slides that contain finger notes, the Dorseymer allows students to learn guitar fingerings while not having to worrying about carrying around a large guitar.
However, not everything Dorsey does in his lessons involves an amazing invention. With his first-grade students, Dorsey creates well organized presentations with colorful lyrics and fun games. He sings songs – both in English and Spanish for Latin Americans – and even tries to have a small history lesson within these presentations.
Through the improvements of the SCSD Fine Arts Department, Dorsey has been able to flourish and provide an opportunity for his students to grow both creatively and as people.
“As a teacher, you always want the next generation of people to be better than you. That’s the whole point of humanity.”