Rachel Lucius, a music teacher at Rahn Elementary School in Eagan, is among 45 U.S. citizens selected to travel abroad through the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching program in 2016-17 offered by the United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.
Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential.
Beginning in January, she will spend four months studying children's choirs and music education in Finland. Her host institution will be the University of Jyväskylä where she will take graduate courses.
“Finland values the role of music in their citizens' lives. The country as a whole has a high respect for music, and arts in general, and produces a proportionally exceptional number of musicians and composers compared to other countries,” said Lucius. “There is much to be learned from a nation with a play-based, systematic music education curriculum for all children starting in preschool, and music schools that are highly funded by both the federal government and municipalities.”
She will be working with two conductors: Pasi Hyokki, director of the Tapiola Choir in Helsinki, and Sanna Salminen, director of the Vox Aurea choir in Jyväskylä. She will use their choirs as the main resources for studying children's choirs in Finland.
Lucius is excited to immerse herself in Finnish society, where she says that the connection between music, other academic disciplines, and the all-round personality of a child is recognized.
“I will return to Rahn and Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 with a new wheelhouse of skills, tools and techniques that will enhance and expand the musical experiences of my students,” said Lucius. “I also hope to impact music education on a broader scale by sharing my learning with other music educators on a district, state and national level.”