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Jeffrey Chipman serves as Choral Director and Performing Arts Lead Teacher for the PAVE Arts Academy at Arlington High School, in Arlington, Tennessee. During his 24-year teaching career he has directed choirs to numerous awards and accolades. The Arlington Chorale was selected to perform at the TMEA Conference in 2018. Jeffrey has taught all levels of students from elementary to undergraduate. His work has also included professional singing engagements and directing community and church ensembles. Mr. Chipman earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Vocal Music Education at The University of Mississippi. He has worked as an honor choir clinician in the Southeastern United States and routinely provides professional development, most notably in the areas of teaching diverse populations, student assessment and teacher evaluation. Mr. Chipman has served as the chairperson for Choral Music with the Tennessee Music Education Association. Mr. Chipman is honored and excited to travel to Normandy, France with the Arlington High Chorale this June after receiving an invitation to participate in the official closing events of the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion. Among his most cherished recognitions is the “My Favorite Educator Award” from the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association. This award is given based on an essay written about a teacher by a former student whose life was positively impacted through the teacher’s work.
Mr. Chipman's Platform statement:
Throughout my 24-year teaching career, I have had the opportunity to work with many wonderful professionals in all aspects of education. I have spent my career in public schools teaching elementary, middle, and high school levels. I have seen massive change in our field over that time. I have worked alongside you to weather these changes and continue to improve the lives our Tennessee’s children through music. Change is happening at a faster pace each year and we continue to adapt and improve our work. With all of the positive and affirming things I have experienced, there is still much work to do. My vision for TMEA focuses on developing the immense talent of the thousands of professionals serving in music classrooms across our state. TMEA can have a positive impact on the success of all music teachers by investing our resources into quality, focused professional training opportunities. We can improve our connectivity to assist in mentoring new or struggling teachers, or those changing grade levels. We can work cooperatively and expand our network of partner organizations and professionals. And we must continue the forward momentum we have seen with supporting and honoring the diversity of our profession and the students we lead.
We must continue to foster and grow strong relationships with partner organizations who share our vision and who will help us achieve our goals. In doing so, we bring added credibility to our mission and connect with an even broader audience across the state. There has been tremendous work over the past several years cultivating these partnerships, specifically with groups such as the CMA Foundation. It is imperative that we sustain these connections and work to expand them. Tennessee’s cultural heritage is rich and undeniably centers on music. From the Blues and Beale Street, to Country and Broadway, to Bluegrass and the Smoky Mountains, music pours from all corners of our state and provides us with a depth and richness of possibilities and connections that can infuse our organization with immense talent and know how. Working closely with our regional associations who are closest to the organizations in their regions, we can grow stronger connections to other cultural outlets that will result in more learning opportunities for our students and teachers.
When teaching middle school, I found that there was a significant need for professional development tailored to the level I taught every day. I have long been an advocate of finding ways to get our middle school teachers to conference so that they can benefit from all the sessions TMEA has to offer. Without middle school focused honor ensembles, and the approved field trips they would provide, too many of our colleagues are denied the ability to attend our professional development conference. We have started to work toward a solution for this in the choral area, and I remain hopeful that our membership can work toward bridging the middle school gap. There is awesome work going on in so many middle school classrooms, yet many are left out of the opportunities provided by our professional organization due to factors we can help change. I am certain our organization can and will strengthen our pre-k- collegiate partnerships and provide learning and support across that pipeline in benefit of all students.
Another area of focus I would continue to strengthen is our work with diverse student populations. I have been amazed and inspired with the silent revolution that has taken place with this generation of students. Their understanding of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, expression, and sexuality are informed, nuanced, and have outpaced their elders by decades. The access to information they have enjoyed has resulted in dramatic shifts in cultural thinking and we must not only be responsive, but when possible, proactive in aligning our organization with those we serve. There are many ways we can achieve this goal to celebrate the diversity we see in our classrooms and in the ensembles we are blessed to prepare at All State. One significant way is to further develop and strengthen our partnerships with our collegiate chapters of NAfME. The members of these groups are closer to the pulse of these cultural shifts and are invaluable to the development of policies and procedures that respect our diverse students and membership. This would also bring those who will eventually lead our state’s music classrooms into the conversation and offer them ownership in the future of our organization. Additionally, we must provide training and support for our members so that they have the resources they need to advocate for their students and provide all children in our state with quality experiences that celebrate them. This work has begun and it is critical that the forward momentum be maintained.
On a personal note, I want to thank TNMEA for the opportunities afforded to my students and me. From serving as State Choral Chair, Performing for TMEA Conference, leading training and interest sessions, to All State opportunities for my kids, I am fortunate and proud to be a part of this organization. The relationships built, lessons learned, and futures set are among the greatest achievements of my career and because we live what we do, also my life. Thank you for what you do each and every day!
Ryan Fisher, Associate Professor of Music Education, is in his seventh year at the University of Memphis where he served as the Music Education Coordinator and Associate Director of Choral Activities in the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music before becoming the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs of the College of Communication and Fine Arts in 2018. Choirs under his direction have been featured at the Arkansas Music Educators Association conference (2010), Tennessee Music Education Association conference (2015), and ACDA Southern region conference (2020) and made frequent guest appearances with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Conway Symphony Orchestra, and Germantown Symphony Orchestra.
Dr. Fisher has served as the Vice President of the Choral Division of the Texas Private Music Educators Association, President-Elect of the Arkansas Music Educators Association, Higher Education Chair of the Tennessee Music Education Association, Higher Education Chair of the West Tennessee Vocal Music Educators Association, and member of the National Association for Music Education Choral Council. He currently serves on the Tennessee American Choral Directors Association state board and the Update: Applications of Research in Music Education editorial committee. Dr. Fisher is an active choral clinician and researcher. He earned a BME from Lee University, a MM in choral conducting and a PhD in music education from the University of North Texas. In 2016, he was named the Lee University School of Music Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. His research interests involve the male voice change, assessment in music education, and self-efficacy. His writings have been published in various prestigious journals including the Journal of Research in Music Education, Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, and Update: Applications of Research in Music Education.
Dr. Fisher's TNMEA Vision statement:
My vision would be to implement the goals of our organization as stated in the TMEA bylaws (Article II, Section 2). As with many state music organizations that sponsor All State music ensembles, we tend to spend most of our time and energy meeting our first stated goal: “Encourage and provide students with opportunities for high quality music experiences.” We should continue to do this by continually improving the quality of our clinicians and ensembles. I feel TMEA could do a better job in achieving our second goal: “Actively promote and provide the best resources and opportunities for professional development.” I know that during my time on the TMEA board, we made a concerted effort to increase attendance of elementary and middle school music educators at our annual conference. We must continue these efforts and begin to target our marketing materials and social media campaigns to reach potential members and conference participants who may not be bringing students to participate in the All-State ensembles. TMEA must strive to provide stellar clinicians for all areas so the professional development needs of our current and future music teachers are met, and our knowledge and skills related to teaching is increased.
We must also do more to meet our teacher’s professional development needs outside of our annual state conference. Perhaps we could more successfully use social media to allow teachers to share inspirational stories, videos of a successful lesson, or lesson plans. That medium allows a free and accessible way for music teachers to easily interact with one another. TMEA area chairs could supervise those discussions to ensure quality advice is being shared. We should encourage more article submissions for the Tennessee Musician from our members via a “call for papers”. We can also partner with our regional music education organizations in the state to potentially offer workshops at their meetings throughout the year.
The last goal in which I think we should continue our efforts is in the area of advocacy. NAfME has had great success in establishing a coalition of various music organizations to promote the importance of music in our schools. They have also been aggressive and active in advocating for music’s place in our schools as evidenced by legislative achievements in the past 10 years. TMEA is on a great path to implementing some of these strategies at the state level, and I believe we should increase our level of involvement. I believe the President of TMEA should regularly meet with the presidents of the other arts education organizations throughout the state to be sure we have a unified voice and consider how legislation, policies, and funding may impact all arts programs in our schools. I developed this special board of arts education leaders in Arkansas before taking the University of Memphis job and we were successful in having proposed state bills and policies that would have negatively impacted the arts in the state pulled or significantly altered.
We should extend these advocacy efforts to promote the importance of music to our district superintendents and school principals. I believe TMEA should coordinate presentations to share at state school administrators’ conferences and partner with principals who are strong music advocates. By reinforcing our Opportunity to Learn Standards, and asking for protection and integrity of our music classes, we could provide a strong, supportive voice for our members who often feel devalued and ostracized.
TMEA is a wonderful organization and has had wonderful leadership. We have great potential to meet the goals established in our bylaws. I believe in the power of music and have devoted my life to promoting and protecting its place in our schools. I have served numerous music education organizations in my career and it would be the honor of my life to serve this organization.