Holiday Spirit

Folk dance teacher Michel Hardbarger, center, teaches students from Los Robles Magnet Academy in East Palo Alto the steps to a line dance to Israeli folk dance song "Hineh Ma Tov", as part of the Music in the Schools program. Photo by Veronica Weber.

Posted December 7, 2018

Making music a priority
Music in the Schools is instrumental in bringing free music classes to Ravenswood

by Karla Kane

On a drizzly December afternoon, more than 25 children gathered in the cafeteria/gymnasium at Los Robles Magnet Academy in East Palo Alto. With rapt attention they shook their arms, clapped their hands and stretched their necks and shoulders to the ever-accelerating tempo of the Ghanaian call-and-response song "Che Che Kule." Moving to the African rhythms was a warm up for their weekly international folk dance class, a new, free, after-school program offered by Music in the Schools Foundation.

"Would everyone find a partner? We're going to make a giant circle," instructor Michel Hardbarger, who leads the class with a gentle, calming presence, said to her group of elementary school children. To the sounds of Israeli music, the dancers took turns spinning with their partners, mimicking a dreidel, in honor of Hanukkah.

When the classes first started, Hardbarger recalled with a laugh, the kids were reluctant to partner up and hold hands. "I tell them, 'You don't have to bring them home with you. It's just a dance!'"

As the hour-long class went on, the choreography increased in complexity, with the children dutifully mouthing the directions along with Hardbarger as they worked on step sequences, pivots and more.

"They're not just learning dance but also about other cultures and each other," Program Director Kyle Sofman said of the successful pilot program, which keeps gaining members through word of mouth.

Though international folk dance is a new offering this year, along with a percussion class for eighth-graders who might otherwise have been left out of their school's music curriculum, Music in the Schools has been providing free general and specialized music classes to students in the Ravenswood City School District for more than 20 years. It currently serves more than 500 children in preschool through eighth grade at four sites in East Palo Alto and east Menlo Park.

Some of their classes are offered during school, "filling in the gaps," as Sofman put it, between the chronically underfunded district's own music courses. Others are offered as free after-school enrichment, something much needed in a district where some parents work long hours and students often stay on campus until 6 p.m. The overall goal is to ensure that all Ravenswood students receive music instruction that meets or exceeds California State Visual and Performing arts (VAPA) standards. Students also get opportunities to perform for the community, helping to build their self-esteem while they reap the artistic, social and cognitive benefits of arts education.

Most Music in the Schools instructors have several teaching gigs to make ends meet (local luminaries on the team include Thomas Shoebotham, director of the Palo Alto Philharmonic). The nonprofit's teachers also sometimes take on multiple types of classes within the program. Hardbarger, for example, at the request of students, has led a ukulele club for fourth- and fifth-graders at Willow Oaks.

Keeping things going, though, is an ongoing struggle, even though the foundation doesn't operate from a central office, which helps keep costs down.

A $5,000 grant received from the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund in 2018 came at an especially critical time, as the program recently lost several important sources of funding, including the Peery Foundation, the Palo Alto Community Fund grants and the Ravenswood City School District itself because of continued financial instability in the district (in 2015-16, the district provided $40,000).

"We've lost a lot of funding, and we still have to pay teachers and maintain instruments. Our money comes from the kindness of donors, and we are grateful for every penny we get," Sofman said.

At the same time as the folk dance class at Las Robles, in a music room across the quad, the after-school beginning strings ensemble was working on a Suzuki piece. Students on cellos, violas and violins rehearsed under the enthusiastic, high-energy guidance of experienced teacher Shelly Monarez. As they rehearsed, she accompanied them on piano, calling out tips — "Feet flat on the floor! Your violin goes on your shoulder!" — and shouting encouragement.

The program not only gives students high-quality lessons in music but, like the dance class, offers lessons in arts diversity.

"The strings teacher incorporates music from a variety of cultures too. It's important for these kids to know their cultures matter — it's not just (by) a bunch of dead white guys," Sofman said.

Toward the end of the lesson, Monarez asked the group, which has only been meeting since October, to try playing along to a recording.

"That was so fun!" one young violinist exclaimed afterward.

Monarez beamed: "Wasn't it, though?"

Sofman and the rest of the Music in the Schools team are making hopeful plans for the future. Sofman said she would love to start a choir, which, as she pointed out, is quite cost efficient since not much equipment is needed. She'd also like to see the popular folk dance program expanded to other sites and/or other times so that more children could have access to it.

Back in the dance class, the kids wrapped things up with an Israeli song about jungle animals, which involved mimicking the slithering motion of a snake. Though the class was originally intended for second-to-fifth graders, a few first-graders have since joined and seem to be keeping up just fine.

"Just do the best you can," Hardbarger told the newest members of the group. She paused and smiled. "And have a good time!"

Make a donation
2018 Grant Recipients

10 Books A Home
Expansion of in-home tutoring and literacy program helping parents prepare their preschoolers for kindergarten through age-appropriate books and reading exercises$15,000

49ers Academy
Consolidation and relocation to a single middle school of the reading intervention and academic support program at to help prepare Ravenswood middle school students for high school $5,000

Able Works
Financial literacy education for students at Menlo-Atherton High School and East Palo Alto charter high schools and for young families$5,000

Acterra
Energy audits and solar installations aimed at reducing utility costs for low income residents of East Palo Alto and Belle Haven$5,000

Ada's Café
Training and support of developmentally disabled employees and high school interns$5,000

Adolescent Counseling Services
Outlet Program providing support services and counseling for LGBTQ+ youth $7,500

All Students Matter
Launch of new literacy intervention program focused on 3rd-5th grade students in Ravenswood school district$10,000

Art in Action
Art education program serving more than 900 students in the Ravenswood school district$5,000

Art of Yoga
Yoga, creative art and other mindfulness activities for juvenile girls in the criminal justice system$5,000

Bayshore Christian Ministries
Academic "Create" summer camp providing multiple tracks for Ravenswood district middle school students$5,000

Buena Vista Homework Club
New homework center for elementary school aged youth living at the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park$10,000

CASSY
School-based mental health services to students and families in six Ravenswood elementary and middle schools$10,000

Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto
Legal assistance to East Palo Alto residents facing eviction and other rental housing problems and conflicts$10,000

Downtown Streets Team
Stipends for homeless volunteers who perform community services in downtown Palo Alto as they transition to regular employment$7,500

DreamCatchers
New system to document student progress and improve communication among tutors of Palo Alto middle school students$10,000

East Palo Alto Kids Foundation
Educator Micro Grants Program, providing up to $600 grants to teachers in schools in East Palo Alto and east Menlo Park$10,000

East Palo Alto Tennis & Tutoring
Literacy evaluations for first through eighth graders in Ravenswood schools to determine needed interventions$7,500

Environmental Volunteers
Monthly public environmental education programs for youth and adults$5,000

Family Connections
Early childhood education program for parents of preschoolers in East Palo Alto and east Menlo Park.$7,500

Foundation for a College Education
College Knowledge middle and high school program designed to prepare students and their families to pursue a college education$7,500

Friends of Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo
Science Outreach Program providing hands on science instruction at Willow Oaks Elementary School$5,000

Get Involved Palo Alto
Service-learning internship placement program for high school students wanting to work with low-income youth$10,000

Health Connected
Sexual health education instruction in Ravenswood middle schools$5,000

Hidden Villa
Summer camp scholarships $5,000

JLS Middle School
Homework Habitat after-school homework and tutoring program three days a week$4,000

Jordan Middle School
Jordan Academic Wellness Support (JAWS) providing after-school study center for students three days a week$4,000

Kara
Spanish language peer grief support program$7,500

Live in Peace
"Gap Year Project" to guide and support at-risk high school graduates unprepared or uncertain about careers or college$5,000

Marine Science Institute
Environmental and marine science education program for low-income students$5,000

Music in the Schools Foundation
Music education in Ravenswood school district$5,000

New Creation Home Ministries
Parenting and life skills classes for teen mothers in East Palo Alto$5,000

New Voices for Youth
Video production equipment and training for middle school students at the Boys and Girls Club in East Palo Alto$3,000

Nuestra Casa
ESL classes for East Palo Alto adults$7,500

One East Palo Alto
Summer job and mentoring program for at-risk East Palo Alto youth$5,000

Palo Alto Art Center Foundation
Cultural Kaleidoscope, an arts-education program linking Palo Alto and East Palo Alto schools and using professional artists$5,000

Palo Alto Housing
Family Reading Club for parents and youth living in subsidized rental apartments managed by Palo Alto Housing $4,000

Peninsula Bridge
After school and summer academic support programs for low income middle and high school students with a goal of attending college$5,000

Peninsula HealthCare Connection
Health care supplies and services provided at the Opportunity Center clinic$5,000

Project WeHOPE
Classes and counseling to support the homeless in East Palo Alto$15,000

Quest Learning Center
Parent education workshops for parents of 2nd to 5th graders in East Palo Alto $5,000

Ravenswood Education Foundation
Purchase of washing machines at three district schools$10,000

Rosalie Rendu Center
ESL and life skills classes for East Palo Alto adults$3,500

Silicon Valley FACES
Scholarships for East Palo Alto teens to attend Camp Everytown youth diversity training weekend$5,000

Silicon Valley Urban Debate League
Summer debate camp for at-risk students in East Palo Alto$5,000

St. Francis of Assisi Youth Club
Meals for low-income third to fifth graders attending East Palo Alto after-school program$5,000

Stanford Jazz Workshop
Pilot of new after-school jazz music program for Ravenswood school district 6th graders$2,500

Terman Middle School
Homework Habitat after-school homework and tutoring program three days a week$4,000

YMCA East Palo Alto
Summer "Full STEAM Ahead" program for high school students, combining academic curriculum with recreational outings$7,500

YMCA Ross Road
Six-week summer enrichment camp for low-income students attending Barron Park Elementary School$5,000

Youth Community Service
Support of Summer of Service day camp scholarships, service clubs at local middle and high schools, service days and life skills programs for at-risk teens$15,000

Youth Speaks Out
Expressive arts program enabling teens whose voices may not be otherwise heard to collaborate on artistic projects with each other and supportive adults.$15,000

Child Care Facility Improvement Grants

Children's Center of the Stanford Community
New classroom tables and chairs and additional trikes$5,000

Children's Pre-School Center
Replacement of climbing structure$5,000

Friends of Preschool Family
Replacement of climbing structure$5,000

Grace Lutheran Preschool
New cabinets and counters$5,000

The Learning Center
Installation of new Nature Explore "Outdoor Classroom"$5,000

Palo Alto Community Child Care
Upgrade of outdoor play space at Barron Park Children's Center$10,000

Palo Alto Friends Nursery School
Replacement of single-pane windows$5,000

Parents Nursery School
Repavement of parking area$5,000

Peninsula Family Service
Repairs and improvements of outdoor play area at Haven Child Development Center$5,000

As of Jan 8, 2019,
370 donors have contributed $401,365.
* indicates amount withheld

28 Anonymous121,525
David Labaree300
Bruce Campbell200
Janis Ulevich100
Mike Gordon250
Bill Reller*
Ellen & Mike Turbow200
Xiaofan Lin50
M D Savioe*
Ron Wolf200
Marcia & Michael Katz200
Tom Goodrich100
Leif & Sharon Erickson250
Stephen Levy 500
John & Meg Monroe500
Daniel Cox200
Richard Zuanich200
Kieschnick Family*
Deborah Williams500
Joan & Roger Warnke*
Havern Family5,000
Bill Johnson & Terri Lobdell1,000
Mike & Jean Couch250
Tony & Judy Kramer*
Peter Stern*
Dorothy Saxe100
David & Nancy Kalkbrenner100
David & Lynn Mitchell450
Barbara Riper*
Nancy & Joe Huber100
Sue Kemp250
Richard Baumgartner & Elizabeth Salzer*
Sally & Craig Nordlund500
Ted & Ginny Chu*
Stev & Mary Chapel50
Ruth Hammett100
Drew McCalley & Marilyn Green100
Roy & Carol Blitzer*
Judith Appleby200
Carolyn Brennan*
Susana & Doug Woodman*
Jody Maxmin*
Pat Burt250
Larry Baer500
Arthur Keller*
Lawrence Naiman100
Pamela Mayerfeld100
Eileen Brooks500
Scott & Jan Kilner500
Andrea Smith100
Braff Family500
Eugene & Mabel Dong200
Debby Roth200
Phil Hanawalt & Garciela Spivak1,000
Lani Freeman & Stephen Monismith100
Tom & Ellen Ehrlich350
Robert & Barbara Simpson*
Gwen Luce*
Robert Aulger*
Pat & John Davis50
Art & Peggy Stauffer500
Kroymann Family250
Mahlon & Carol Hubenthal*
Karen & Steve Ross*
Wileta Burch*
Mandy Lowell*
George & Betsy Young*
Tom & Pat Sanders*
Gerald & Joyce Barker200
Brigid Barton & Rob Robinson400
Jim & Alma Phillips500
Peggy & Boyce Nute*
Michael & Cathie Foster500
Diane Moore*
Linda & Steve Boxer*
Chuck & Jean Thompson100
Julie Jerome500
Bonnie Berg*
Gallo Family500
Ann & Don Rothblatt500
Caryn Huberman Yacowitz*
Shirley R. Ely1,000
Luca & Mary Cafiero*
Steve & Diane Ciesinski500
Jennifer DiBrienza & Jesse Dorogusker500
James W. & Nancy E. Baer200
The Ely Family250
Page & Ferrell Sanders100
JoAnne N. Zschokke100
Ralph R. Wheeler300
Bert Fingerhut & Caroline Hicks250
Kaaren & John Antoun1,500
Richard Johnsson7,000
Bruce Gee & Jane Gee250
Eric Hahn & Elaine Hahn1,000
Bob & Dee Crawford*
Diane & Bob Simoni200
Jan Thomson & Roy Levin*
Donald & Adele Langendorf200
Irvin & Marilyn Yalom100
Brigid Barton500
Jerry & Bobbie Wagger*
John & Florine Galen*
H. Anton & Carolyn Tucher250
Phil Fernandez & Daniel Sternbergh*
Bob & Micki Cardelli*
John Pavkovich500
Eileen Stolee100
Sallie Whaley*
Ann Burrell & Allen Smith*
Patti Yanklowitz150
Linda Selden*
Dena Hill500
Michael Patrick200
Bonnie Packer100
Romola Georgia*
Martha Shirk500
Christina Kenrick1,000
Dawes Family250
Ken Bencala & Sally O'Neil200
Nina & Norman Kulgein*
Tom & Nancy Fiene*
Lee Zulman*
Merrill & Lee Newman250
Judy & Lee Shulman200
Donna & Jerry Silverberg100
Victor Befera100
Kay & Don Remsen*
Beth & Peter Rosenthal300
Robyn H. Crumly*
Charles & Barbara Stevens*
Amado Padilla & Deborah Farrington500
Jerry & Linda Elkind500
Donald & Virginia Fitton25
Don & Bonnie Miller100
Roger V. Smith300
Edie Kirkwood*
Cynthia Costell100
Anna & Chris Saccheri1,000
Eric Keller & Janice Bohman250
Diana Diamond150
A Carlisle Scott*
Peter Beller & Nadine Dabby*
Carol Kersten300
Linda Groffie-Balint150
Michal Sadoff100
Ellen Krasnow*
Meri Gruber & James Taylor250
Tony & Kathleen Hughes1,500
Erika Buck100
Carolyn Williams200
Jocelyn Dong*
Spreng Family200
Susan D. Osofsky200
Leo & Marlys Keoshian100
John & Lee Pierce250
Susie Richardson & Hal Luft*
Don & Dee Price*
Anne & Don Vermeil*
John & Mary Schaefer100
Judy Ousterhout*
Ellen Lillington300
B & D Fryberger100
Stewart & Carol Hansen100
Gwen Barry*
Richard & Tish Fagin100
Margo Sensenbrenner*
Al & Joanne Russell300
Harry & Susan Hartzell100
Frances Codispoti500
Hal & Carol Louchheim400
Herbert Fischgrund200
Diane & Brandy Sikic*
Karen Backer500
Rosalie Shepherd100
David Thom200
Sylvia McGovern100
Lawrence Dong50
Annette Isaacson100
Pamela Wong25
Barbara Kinsey500
Thomas Rindfleisch*
Elgin & Elizabeth Lee500
Weil Family1,000
Epstein Family500
Kenyon Family500
Ellmann Family100
Helene Pier*
David & Virginia Pollard150
Diane Finkelstein200
Elizabeth Shepard*
Nancy Moss*
Rita Vrhel300
Virginia Laibl500
Barbara Klein & Stan Schrier*
Paul Kingston Duffie50
Carol Hubenthal50
Steve & Virginia Morgan50
Barbara Noparstak & Duane Bay100
Judith & Hans Steiner150
Marc & Margaret Cohen250
Dennis & Cindy Dillon*
Carol Gilbert*
Jane Holland*
Mike & Lennie Roberts200
Hoda Epstein*
Larry Breed200
Colleen Anderson250
Elizabeth Bechtel100
Peter Giles125
Georgie Gleim500
Jeremy Platt & Sondra Murphy*
Jean Doble*
George Chippendale50
Robert Stevens200
Richard Mazze100
Sandy Liu100
Charles Katz400
Richard N Ellson100
Kathryn & A.C. Johnston100
Claire Lauing250
Alice Evarts500
Carol O'Neill25
Reed Content200
Nancy Peterson100
Joanne Koltnow100
Susan Elgee & Steve Eglash500
Liz Kok*
Werner Graf*
Vincent Steckler500
Norm & Nancy Rossen*
Debra Satz & Don Barr*
John & Lynn Wiese150
Lawrence Yang & Jennifer Kuan1,000
Delle Maxwelll2,500
Steve & Gayle Brugler1,000
Andy & Eva Dobrov150
Kate & Marvin Feinstein200
Scott Pearson500
Marilyn, Dale, Rick & Mei Simbeck*
Bruce & Mary Beth Train250
Sherry Brown250
Charlie Williams125
Jonathan Macquitty & Laurie Hunter1,000
Gavin & Patricia Christensen*
Ralph Britton200
Barbara Allen100
Veronica Tincher*
Kay Sabin*
Leannah Hunt250
Marilee & Sam Anderson100
Chen & Lee Family300
Teresa Roberts1,000
Mr. & Mrs. John J. McLaughlin100
Ellen King200
Patricia Levin100
Joan Norton*
Susan Bartalo & David Fischer150
In Memory Of

Er-Ying & Yen-Chen Yen250
Janet Hermsen200
Ray Bacchetti250
Nancy & Bob Lobdell*
Ruth & Chet Johnson*
Tracy & Alan Herrick100
Bob Fenster*
David, Zoe & Ken100
Mrs. Nancy Yih*
Thomas W. & Louise L. Phinney*
Leo & Sylvia Breidenbach*
Corrine Aulgur*
Duncan Matteson250
Pam Grady300
Elliot Eisner*
Nate Rosenberg200
Francine Mendlin250
Bob Donald*
Bill Land*
Emmett Lorey*
Ted Linden200
Marie & Don Snow150
Ben Barres100
Kathleen Morris*
Our Loving Parents Albert & Beverly Pellizzari*
August L. King*
Julia Schwartz*
Lee Domenik*
Marts Beekley, M.D.*
Margaret McAvity - "Granny"*
Carol Berkowitz*
Don Kenyon100
Judge Bart Phelps*
Ernest J. Moore200
Jacques, Nancy, Wanda & Jimmy George*
Sally Landy & Betty Meltzer50
Mary Floyd & Susan Thomas50
Jack Sutorius300
Jim & Dottie Mellberg200
Robert Spinrad*
Boyd Paulson Jr.*
Edward & Elizabeth Buurma*
Samuel Benjamin Kurland300
David Mitchell200
Gary A Fry250
Lindsey Draper100
Abe & Helen Klein50
Dave Mitchell100
Bob Markevitch*
Tinney Family250
Marshall Carrick*
In Honor Of

Melissa Baten Caswell*
Lucy Berman's clients2,500
Jill200
Scott200
Polly200
Hayley200
Jake200
Garrett200
Gil200
Joe Simitian*
Marilyn Sutorius300
Physicians, Kaiser RWC*
Shapiro Family500
As a Gift For

Logan Marsh & Gabby Perez1,000
Businesses/Organizations

Palo Alto Weekly Moonlight Run & Walk69,110
Sponsors of Moonlight Run
    Stanford Hospital & Clinics10,000
    Wilson Rosati Goodrich & Rosati Foundation5,000
    Palo Alto Medical Foundation5,000
    Stanford Federal Credit Union5,000
    Palantir5,000
    DeLeon Realty5,000
    Wealth Architects5,000
    Facebook5,000
    Kaiser Permanente5,000
    Lakin Spears2,000
    Bank of the West1,000
Alta Mesa Cemetery & Funeral Home2,000
Bleibler Properties1,000
Communications & Power Industries500
deLemos Properties200
Palo Alto Business Park*
Peery Foundation10,000
Arrillaga Foundation10,000

Apply for a Holiday Fund Grant

Nonprofits serving children and families may apply for funds by downloading our Grant Application Guidelines and Grant Application Form. Application deadline: 11:59 p.m. on January 4, 2019.