By Lee Anne Vetrone-Timothy April 23rd, 2014
The numbers are astounding – 4,000 8th grade students in a 10 year period. The creativity is inspired – 400 students each year writing and performing their own blues songs. The lessons learned have the potential to last a lifetime. The Port Washington Education Foundation (PWEF) is proud to have funded The Blues (in total or part) at WeberMiddle School for the past ten years. Weber English teacher Jeff Moss created the program after hearing blues musician Toby Walker perform at the Port Washington Public Library. Says Mr. Moss, “Toby sang a song he’d written with elementary school students. It was impressive and gave me the idea to invite him to Weber.”
The program grew from there and was designed to compliment the 8th grade study of The Great Migration, the African-American experience of traveling out of the South or The Blues Journey. Mr. Walker, who has recently been recognized and inducted as a Master Blues Artist in the New York Blues Hall of Fame, marvels at his decade-long experience at Weber. “It’s all about inspiration. I hope I inspire the students with my stories and guitar playing, as much as they inspire me with their interest, participation and desire to know more about blues music.” An engaging storyteller and gifted blues musician, Toby leads the students on a historical and musical journey, offering them a solid foundation from which they are able to write and perform their own songs.
Students love the program. A past student, now a high school junior and an accomplished guitar player shared, “For me, this was probably the best day at Weber. Toby Walker and this program gave me a whole new perspective on The Blues.” The PWEF is pleased to have funded The Blues at Weber and so many other exciting and innovative grants. This year’s grants offer more than 15,000 direct student interactions from 86 grantees.
The Port Washington Education Foundation is an independent, non-profit, community-based organization. The Foundation supports initiatives to enhance and expand educational opportunities over and above basic educational needs for all students in the Port Washington public schools. The organization actively seeks donations, grants and government assistance in order to distribute funds to selected programs and resources.
To find out more about Toby Walker go to www.littletobywalker.com