Love of Music ‘Instrumental’ in Reagan Middle School Principal’s Decision to Become Arts Supervisor

| September 4, 2015 | 0 Comments | Education
Photo Courtesy of Ed Stephenson

Photo Courtesy of Ed Stephenson

Being a father of four, a husband and the principal of Reagan Middle School didn’t leave Dr. Edward Stephenson much time to pursue music, but it was never far from his mind.

So when the opportunity arose for Stephenson, a professionally trained cellist, to leave his role and become the supervisor of the arts for Prince William County schools, he knew it was something he couldn’t pass up.

“Six months ago, I didn’t see myself not being a principal,” he said. “There is really no other position in education that’s like being a principal.”

Being able to build things and impact students in areas that go beyond what test scores measure is something he enjoyed, Stephenson added.

He spent three years at Reagan and played an important role in opening the new school in 2012.

“That was such a unique and rewarding experience that I learned a great deal from,” Stephenson said of opening the school and being its first principal.

Before Reagan, he spent three years at Bull Run Middle School where he was responsible for the education of some 1700 students.

As child, music was all around him, said Stephenson, whose father has played in the National Orchestra for 40 years.   Stephenson went on to attend a music conservatory and play cello professionally.

He also taught middle and high school orchestra and played in a number of musical ensembles in the area.

“Once upon a time, I was quite involved [in the arts.] I was very immersed in it,” said Stephenson, who added that he eventually had less time for playing music as his work responsibilities increased.

“I really enjoyed being a school administrator … but one of the realities is there are so many things you have to be aware of and on top of; you have to give your time to all kinds of things,” he said.

His new role is based in supporting teachers in their efforts to provide an excellent arts education to students, Stephenson said.

A good arts education is impactful in the lives of children, he said. Students who participate in the arts have a much higher rate of success in other areas, Stephenson added.

He’ll work with others to come up with ways to integrate the arts into STEM education, that is, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, Stephenson said.  Adding art to the familiar acronym forms a new one, STEAM.

In addition to offering instructional support to teachers and being involved in screening candidates for arts education positions, he’ll be in charge of logistics, such as coordinating all instrument repairs for the school division, he said.

He’ll also be organizing district and regional events for the school division. This will put him in contact with a lot of old friends and colleagues he once worked with—something Stephenson said he’s excited about.

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