August 2, 2012
Nancy Ditmer, professor of music and director of bands at The College of Wooster, has begun a two-year term as president of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME).
WOOSTER, Ohio — As conductor of The College of Wooster’s Fighting Scot Marching Band for 27 years, Nancy Ditmer used a battery-powered megaphone to get the attention of her student musicians. Whether refining a melody or adjusting a formation, Ditmer’s instructions were always loud and clear. Now, she will direct her attention to a much larger and more diverse audience — but she plans to be just as audible — as she begins a two-year term as president of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME).
A passionate music educator with rock-solid resolve, Ditmer will transition to a half-time schedule at Wooster so that she can serve as president of the organization through June of 2014. “This is a logical next step for me,” she says. “It will give me an opportunity to gain additional leadership skills and to broaden my network of contacts across all 50 states, so that I can better assist our students when they begin to search for positions. It will also bring additional visibility to the College and our music program. I am really looking forward to the challenge.”
Indeed, Ditmer will attempt to visit every state during the next 24 months, chair the National Executive Board (NEB), develop meeting agendas, and deliver keynote addresses at the organization’s annual gatherings. She also hopes to have a strong voice in enlightening Washington lawmakers about the importance of music education in the nation’s schools. “In my opinion, as long as politicians are running education, there will be problems,” she says. “It’s just too hard for them to keep up with what’s happening in the schools. We need them to listen to us; we are the educators; we are with the students; we can provide valuable advice.”
Ditmer’s fundamental message is a reflection of the organization’s strategic plan, which calls for the implementation of a comprehensive standards-based sequential music education program for every school in the country so that students are prepared for lifelong involvement in music and for the development of creative thinking and problem-solving skills that will help them succeed in the workforce throughout their adult lives.
“We want to institute these comprehensive standards so that all students, pre-kindergarten through high school, will have the opportunity to study music as a core subject,” she says. “The challenge, of course, is funding for education in general, especially music and the arts, which are always among the first programs to be cut.
“We need to help students develop good creative skills, which can be advanced through the arts,” adds Ditmer. “Kids love music, and they need more opportunities to explore it because it can be a useful tool to help them think creatively about how to solve problems.”
Nominated by William Anderson, retired associate dean and former professor of music at Kent State University, Ditmer has been president elect for the past two years and actively involved in policy making, including the formation of the strategic plan. She has also been working on such issues as improving professional development for teachers and establishing learning communities through advanced technology.
“I think it is a great opportunity to meet and interact with people around the country,” she says. “It will be an honor to serve a 130,000-member organization and take on the day-to-day challenges facing teachers nationwide.”
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