Geoffrey Spann: The arts smart principal

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 8, 2002

Features Editor

Troy Elementary School Principal Geoffrey Spann was recently honored as the Alabama Music Association "Administrator of the Year" – a recognition that put Spann in a very elite group of school administrators.

However, Spann was quick to share that honor.

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"The recognition I received was due to the music program in place now and the programs

that have been prevalent in our elementary school for many years, beginning with my father, Jerry Spann," he said. "In fact, we have only had three music teachers since we began offering music in elementary school, my father who taught me music, Cathy Youngblood and Teresa Sims who is doing an outstanding job.

The award highlights the continuing legacy of our music program."

Spann knows, first hand, how important music, art, dance and drama are to a school curriculum.

"I am a product of this school system and I was involved in the music programs until I graduated," he said. "There are disciplines that are learned within music that connect with real life. I sing in the choir, so I am still involved in music."

Spann’s background in music began at home and some children have that same opportunity, but those who don’t are introduced to music in school.

"Music, as well as the other arts, is certainly an avenue for students to perform, to learn more about music and to associate with other students in terms of playing and learning," Spann said. "We are all touched by music, whether it be passive or performing. Music is a lifelong skill and provides lifelong enjoyment."

At Troy Elementary, Spann said music is incorporated into other disciplines and everyday life activities.

"The hands-on approach is one of the greatest things about our music program," he said. "It’s better than a record player or tape recorder. Students get to perform at an early age and that gives them an avenue of expression from which they receive feedback in light of what they have accomplished. They get satisfaction from having used their talents and skills to create something that others enjoy."

TES’s Fifth Grade Orff Ensemble was invited to perform at the Alabama Music Educators Association In-Service Conference at the University of Alabama when Spann received the award and the young musicians received a standing ovation for their efforts.

"The Orff instruments are something a student can play in a group effort," Spann said. "If it’s only banging one note 100 times, everybody gets an opportunity to participate and perform. That’s important because it builds self-confidence and camaraderie and it’s also somewhat competitive. Students who want to do more have opportunities to practice and excel."

Because it’s hard to escape the connection between the arts and other subjects, the arts open many doors for students.

"Students who are involved in arts learn about history and about other cultures and places," Spann said. "The arts provide enrichment for the other subjects."

Spann said the overall excellence of the academic program at Troy Elementary School is the first and foremost comment he hears from parents. However, many parents cite the school’s fine arts program as the reason TES is their school of choice for their children.

"The fine arts program is the single, greatest comment I hear about our school," Spann said. "We put a lot of stock in our art and music education programs and we want to build those programs, not lose them."