Kingsport City Schools Music Education Program Receives National Recognition

Published on April 2, 2019 at 11:31 a.m.
KINGSPORT, Tenn. – Kingsport City Schools (KCS) has once again been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education (BCME) designation from the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education. From more than 13,500 school districts in the United States, 623 were selected for the 2019 BCME award. 

Now in its 20th 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, KCS answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, and community music-making programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

“Kingsport City Schools has held a long tradition of excellence in music education, with consistent, ongoing, and purposeful improvements and expansions through the years." said Dobyns-Bennett High School Assistant Principal and KCS Secondary Arts Supervisor Richard Brown. "This tradition is most evident through our outstanding and nationally competitive high school bands, orchestras and choirs, supported by exemplary elementary school and middle school music programs. The greater Kingsport community recognizes the value of music education for all students.  We are pleased to receive this award in response to our city’s commitment to music education.”

The excellence and progress of the KCS music department are led by teachers Willinda CharumukaRachel CinnamonLafe CookPatty DenmarkAaron FarmerRyan GilbertAnnie GriffithTurner HawkinsKristian HefnerKim HutchisonDebbie JohnsonSandra KerneyCarole MakowskiAngela MillerHunter MullinsJenny RogersShauna SlempConnie TreadwaySeth Wallingford, and Rachel Zollinger.   

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.
A 2015 study supported by The NAMM Foundation, “Striking A Chord,” also outlines the overwhelming desire by teachers and parents for music education opportunities for all children as part of the school curriculum.

For more information about the NAMM Foundation, please visit

Kingsport City Schools (KCS) is a public school district located in Kingsport, Tenn., serving students in Sullivan and Hawkins county. The district is comprised of 13 schools, including a Pre-K, eight elementary schools, two middle schools, one high school, a high school program of choice and an alternative learning program; with total enrollment over 7,700 students. The vision of Kingsport City Schools is to Inspire. Cultivate. Impact.

For more information on KCS, visit, listen live on WCSK 90.3 FM, The Voice of KCS, read our blog, We Are KCS, download our mobile app for Apple / Android devices or call (423) 378.2100. We’re social too; follow us on Facebook (Kingsport City Schools), Twitter (@KCS_District), LinkedIn (Kingsport City Schools) and check out our YouTube Channel (KPTSchools).