Small School, Big Program The Howard School Story

What makes a Big Program? Teachers? Administration? Staff? Parents and Students? Howard School is not just a Big Program. It is a Great Program serving most of the Howard student population with some form of music education. It is a Great Program, especially when you consider it’s a K- 8 Country School with a total student population of 542 students. The Howard story started just four years ago, when Diego Zarate-White became the music teacher. He started with a small group of students teaching recorders, choir and band. He soon agreed to begin the first string orchestra program in Madera Unified that included: Violins, Violas and Cellos. The following year he offered general music to grades Pre-K through fourth grade. That led to the first jazz band in a K-8 school in Madera Unified. The students just kept on coming! Mr. Zarate-White’s Big Howard Music Program has expanded to include an additional teacher to teach the string orchestra and a second jazz band. He now has 11 performing ensembles: Recorders, Beginning String Orchestra, Intermediate String Orchestra, Advanced String Orchestra, Intermediate and Advanced Choir, Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced Band, Beginning Jazz Band, Advanced Jazz Band, this is the largest number of ensembles at one school site in the entire district. His choral groups have consistently received Unanimous Superior Ratings at the Elementary Choral Festival. And if that’s not all, in 2017, three of his band students were selected for the Fresno Madera County Honor Band, a band consisting of some of the finest musicians from all over the Central Valley. To top it off, the 2018 school year has been a banner year for the Big and Great Program. Five of his band students were selected for the Fresno Madera County Honor Band and one of those students was selected for the California Association of Music Educators Honor Concert Band, a select group of band students which is from all over the state of California.

With the support of the entire Howard School Community, Howard School is not just a Big Program or a Great Program, it is the model program for music education.


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