Making music at Thomas Jefferson

By Anna Yee

March 21, 2012 Updated Mar 22, 2012 at 11:26 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- The music teacher at Thomas Jefferson Primary School has a lot to smile about.

Elizabeth Smiley will use the One Class at a Time grant to purchase new supplies for a two-year-old music program that is still finding its tune.

"We have some broken down band instruments that we borrow from other schools," said Smiley, "because our school doesn't really have a band instrument inventory, and we can buy some more orchestra instruments as well as music for our choir program."

Along with regular music classes, Miss Smiley also teaches choir, orchestra, and band to dedicated students like 6th grader Terrell Ford.

"Oh, I've liked music ever since I was 5," said Ford. "I would find something that makes noise and play it, and now that I have something that's a real instrument, I really like it. I can see myself growing up and playing it. 'Terrell,' a star."

Miss Smiley said music can help all 550 students shine.

"There have been studies that show that kids who excel in music programs also excel in areas such as math and science, reading, higher ACT and SAT scores down the line," said Smiley, "and it's just a cultural experience that they deserve, and they need to get at school."