It started with a quick interaction in the hall. Garretson Superintendent Guy Johnson passed registration information about a potential $25,000 grand prize to K-12 Vocal Music Teacher Kelby Robinson with just two days until the deadline to file the paperwork.

For Robinson the pressure to meet the cutoff was minimal in comparison to the potential good. “The first thing that jumped into my mind was look at all the opportunities this could provide these students and the hands-on learning experience that would be really engaging and beneficial for these kids.”

The format for winning the award is similar to other projects where the community rallies behind the cause through accumulating votes and the award is sponsored by a corporate entity. This one is underwritten by Bridgestone Tires and is called the Fuel the Cause neighborhood transformation contest where the community project with the most votes will receive a $25,000 grand prize donation.

Designed to foster positive change in local communities, the Fuel the Cause contest seeks to identify educational, environmental, safety and other community-based initiatives that would benefit from a transformation funded by Bridgestone. Robinson submitted her application in order to support the music department in the Garretson School District.

In the application she states: If selected for this grant various instruments will be purchased including Orff mallet instruments, a set of drums for world drumming, ukuleles, and unpitched percussion instruments as well as adequate storage to protect these instruments so they can be used for many years to come. I would also invest in technology including iPads to use for composition activities and listening centers, a voice amplification system for the classroom, and a digital recording device. Additional funds would be put toward the purchase of music for the choir and the elementary students. Classroom instruments and technology provide hands-on, engaging lessons for students of all ages. Digital recording devices would allow for recording audition tracks for student’s college scholarship auditions, and festival entries. Recording students during rehearsals would also allow for students to listen and self-critique their performance, and also allow students to record themselves playing classroom instruments such as recorders on their own during class. I could then go back and listen to their tracks after class for assessment purposes and to provide more individualized instruction.

With a super majority of the students in Garretson participating in music, Robinson feels the benefits to the community through music would manifest to great degree. “I hope that this would provide these students with opportunities that they would have never had otherwise. Music teaches social skills, teamwork, perseverance, responsibility and it also crosses social, cultural and economic boundaries.”

As of the latest tabulations, Garretson School District was in the top three in a tight battle among twelve nominations. The voting closes April 30. If you would like to lend support to the effort, you may vote every day once per email address at the Fuel the Cause website link below or you can click here to participate.