BETTY JO BABIC

Daily Point of Light # 2496 Aug 29, 2003

Mark Kaplan has worked in the Music Department of the Malden Public Schools since he began teaching back in the early 1970s. He teaches instrumental music and band to elementary and middle school students.

Kaplan often was an elementary child’s first teacher of music. As their teacher he wants all of his students to learn to love music as he does. He wants music to be fun and not something to dread. He has dedicated his whole career to his students and making music a part of their lives. Over the years, Kaplan has provided students with the skills they need to participate in special programs such as Tiny Tunes Band, Middle School Band, Jazz Band, All City Band and High School Band, just to name a few.

In recent years Kaplan has been very involved in the planning for the Music Department. Since there is no department manager, he has taken on a leadership role in helping to write curricula for all levels, working on school wide assessment procedures, and in working on the room designs and programs for the five new K-8 Malden schools. Beyond what he does in evening practices and marching in parades, he also gives more time to plan an annual trip to reward the band members.

Over the years working with the band students, Kaplan built up a rapport with their parents. He found each year that he would get more brothers and sisters of former students in his instrumental programs. In no time, parents began to associate Kaplan’s name with Malden Elementary School bands.

On two occasions when the city faced financial cuts and the school department eliminated music programs Kaplan spoke out at School Committee meetings about the importance of music in the lives of children. He told them that research shows that students who study music achieve better in mathematics and foreign languages. He told them that having music programs also keeps kids involved in something positive which leads to healthy self-esteem. And finally Kaplan stressed that students involved in music programs are too busy to be hanging around and getting into trouble. Kaplan never missed an opportunity to advocate for the kids.

Whenever you work with students after school in extracurricular programs you see their parents frequently. Over the years, Kaplan got the parents involved with their children’s music education whenever possible and they eventually formed the Malden All City Band-Aiders Association. Kaplan and the group raised money, chaperoned trips and events, organized spaghetti suppers, leafleted, fundraised and helped with parades and concerts. Although this group deserves praises for what they have achieved over the years their origin comes from the fact that Mr. Kaplan had a rapport with parents that was welcoming and made them want to contribute to his efforts and the kids.

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