MacRae: “I do what I do because of the students - the ongoing question for me is - Is this good for the students?

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

May 16th, 2018



When the Gazette covered the Halton Music showcase with over 600 students and their instruments in almost every nook and cranny at the Seniors’ Centre then reviewed the very large display of student art at Gary Alan high school and then learned of a dance competition, we found ourselves asking – Who organizes all these events and what part do the arts play in the education children are getting.

Turns out that Rebecca MacRae, lead arts coordinator with the Halton District School Board keeps all the parts moving.

Getting the instrument ready

Getting it just right – the first time.

The Board has over 200 music teachers at the elementary and secondary levels.

Dancer in wire

This is the work of an elementary school student.

MacRae wasn’t able to tell us how any students she interacts with on a weekly basis but did say later that “It’s more than I realized.” Her student contact is spent observing their workshops, and helping with the logistics of large events and rehearsals.

Rebecca MacRae

Rebecca MacRae

MacRae is in place to oversee the arts offerings in the schools, a job she has been doing since September. She has been with the Board of Education for 18 years always in music and drama. She studied at McMaster University, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and Mohawk College.

Sculpture - curvy

From the hands of an elementary student.

The world of music for MacRae began when she saw a piano with her grandmother and knew then that she “wanted to play one of those.”

Jazz and classical are her preferences; she has written some music but is reluctant to call herself a composer

Her job is that of an administrator where time management is her biggest challenge. “I do what I do because of the students and the ongoing question for me is ‘Is this good for the students’”. And to reports to Superintendent Julie Hunt Gibbons .

Girl with trombone

Listening attentively.

A large part of the job is ensuring that there’s a real world connection to what is being taught in the classroom where the students learn from each other.

Circuit city

An artistic interpretation of a circuit board.

Students get to see that music, art, drama and dance are crafts and one of the ways they can earn their livings
Asked what difference she is going to make she says it is important for her to understand what’s going on and realizing that there’s not just one way to do things.

“I am in place to build relationships and to do right by the students”, said MacRae. “These students are the future leaders.”

When MacRae gets going she will tell you that “A complete education includes the arts where students get to understand their own personalities and get to do drama, dance and music with other students. There is a level of creativity that isn’t as evident in some other subjects. Students get to explore, use their imaginations and develop ideas. The arts bring emotions to the surface giving students a chance to reflect on their feelings and experience the joy of producing something that gets shared with others. We want children to feel what they are doing.”

Music for MacRae is personal. She doesn’t play professionally – and wishes there was more time to play at home.

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