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Founder, Program Director & Music Teacher, Juneau, Alaska Music Matters
Juneau, Alaska

Lorrie Heagy is a music teacher and director of Juneau, Alaska Music Matters (JAMM), an El Sistema-inspired program that provides string instruction for over 500 students in Juneau, Alaska.  She has twenty years experience in the classroom and has provided teacher training for El Sistema initiatives nationwide in early childhood practices, brain-based learning and student engagement. In 2015, Lorrie helped launch a Secondary Education Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) with a K-12 music certificate through the University of Alaska Southeast, whereby musicians conduct their internships in JAMM schools and music classrooms in the District and perform in the Juneau Symphony. 

Before entering the Sistema Fellowship, Lorrie was one of 50 teachers selected nationally as a Yale School of Music Distinguished Music Educator.  The arts programs that Lorrie helped initiate at Glacier Valley earned the school the Kennedy Center’s Creative Ticket National School of Distinction Award, an honor given to five schools across the country each year. After completing the Sistema Fellowship, Lorrie received the 2011 Alaska Teacher of the Year award. Lorrie is a pianist and enjoys accompanying for arts organizations in Juneau.     

Juneau Alaska Music Matters (JAMM) is an El Sistema-inspired program, which has hosted over twenty El Sistema teachers from other sites worldwide over the last six years. It was the featured cover story of the October 2014 issue of Teaching Music and in three episodes of the PBS/Annenberg Learner Professional Series called The Power of Music: P-5 Teaching Inspired by El Sistema. 

JAMM’s success absolutely relies on school and community partnerships, with the Juneau Symphony serving as its primary partner.  JAMM also is a school readiness program that uses music to develop focus, self-control, teamwork, and the understanding that it takes effort to accomplish great things. This El Sistema-inspired music program uses the social experience of the orchestra and ensemble to inspire and motivate young children, especially those who could not otherwise afford it. The community funds instruments and specialized musical training, while the Juneau School District provides space and time during the school day for both school music teacher and kindergarten teachers to work alongside local string instructors. By leveraging existing resources and capitalizing on shared goals, JAMM helps the school district reach its goals of access and equity, student success, and community engagement.

Headshot: Chris Miller