This week Nick Averwater talks with Todd Shipley, Director of Arts Education for the Tennessee Department of Education. Todd had eight years of experience as a school band director before moving into his current role with the state in 2018. In this episode, we'll learn more about what it means to be the leading advocate for arts education in a state of nearly seven million people, and we'll learn about some practical ideas for advocacy at the local level. Our conversation was recorded February 14, 2022, and is broken up in to two episodes, and this is part one.
Todd Shipley majored in Music Education at Middle Tennessee State University. After graduating from college, he spent 3 years as Director of Bands at LeVergne Middle School in La Vergne, TN. While at LaVergne, Todd lead all aspects of the band program including teaching 6th grade beginning band, 7th grade band, 8th grade band, pep band, and other small ensembles (jazz band, percussion ensemble, etc.). He also served on the Data Team (2012-13), Leadership Team (2012-13), and Hawk Celebration Committee (2011-13). During tenure there, the band program increased membership from 128 students (2010) to over 210 student musicians (2012). He also established a fundraising and sponsorship program to supplement funding from school board and created a jazz band program.
In 2013, Todd transitioned to a new role at Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic Magnet School for Health Sciences and Engineering. Todd taught 7th Grade Band, 8th Grade Band, Symphonic Band, Wind Symphony, Wind Ensemble, and Music Understanding. He also served as the faculty sponsor for National Honor Society (2015-16) and Tri-M Music Honor Society (2013-2018). From 2015-2018, he was the Fine Arts Department Chair (representing 5 teachers and 650 students.) During this time, Todd oversaw planning, design, and construction of new state-of-the-art 6,000+ sq. ft, $1 Million+ facilities expansion for instrumental music. In 2014, the Wind Ensemble was selected as the State Level Winner in the Mark of Excellence Program. In 2015, the school was selected as a GRAMMY Signature Schools Semi-Finalist and he premiered a new composition at National Association of Music Education Annual Conference. His Wind Ensemble was also selected to perform at 2015 TMEA State Conference in Memphis, TN.
In 2018, Todd began work as the Director of Arts Education & State of the Arts Program Director for the TN Department of Education. During his time with the state, Todd has developed and implemented $1MM music education grant program to develop or improve music programs and established the Arts Education Network to create a network of professional practice between school districts across the state. He has also collaborated with external partners to launch a first-of-its-kind statewide arts education landscape study and led the creation of toolkits to support educators during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, Todd coordinated professional learning for new fine arts standards, portfolio, and other topics relative to arts education and supported the launch of the TN Arts Education Data Project. He also successfully advocated for over $300,000 in funding to support fine arts instructional resource development.
Photo & Biography credit: Todd Shipley
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