Principals of Music Award Winner Interview: Haydn George, Kugluktuk, Nunavut

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Many principals will tell you that the success of a school isn’t the result of one person’s work alone. A whole team of teachers, parents, assistants, and community members work together to support a healthy and prosperous school and its students. Principal Haydn George believes this very idea is essential to his school and specifically the music program at Kugluktuk High School in Kugluktuk, NU. Both Ben Timmins, Music Instructor, and Kenny Taptuna, School Community Counsellor, are instrumental in delivering a committed and accessible music program. Principal George credits his recognition as a 2015 Principal of Music Award winner and the success of the music program to both Mr. Timmins and Mr. Taptuna. “They have created a program which has deep roots in the community, where students can have a positive experience and feel included in the school”, says Principal George. “These teachers believe that having a safe and regularly accessible music space, where students are able to collaborate with other students, gives them an added reason to come to school and take part in something they look forward to.” Beyond being named as a POMA winner, the school receives a $1,500 cash prize to contribute to their music program. Principal George says these funds went directly to providing more musical instruments to increase musical opportunities for students. He notes that parents have also seen changes in the students because of the music room. Students arrive at school early with the desire to play the guitar, a drum beat, or sing. This develops confidence and leads to the sharing of music with others. Community performances have evolved out of the music room – open mics, assembly performances, all providing students with an outlet and a voice. The music room hears a variety of musical genres and languages, including songs sung in Inuktitut, and genres such as rock and country. Principal George speaks to how a part of the culture is to be quiet, especially in the early stages of learning, which is why it is important for these students to find their ‘voice’ and continue to thrive. Because of music they are able to become more confident and willing to share their musical gifts.