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Hallsville teacher wins grant to restore aging xylophones

Posted on Friday, December 1, 2017 at 7:13 am

Hallsville Elementary Music Teacher Chelsea Otten

Hallsville Elementary Music Teacher Chelsea Otten

Hallsville Elementary Music Teacher Chelsea Otten recently received a $500 grant from the Missouri Retired Teachers Foundation (MRTF) to restore the district’s aging xylophones. The collection is used by over 450 students on a weekly basis, as well as in annual concerts. Over many years, the instruments have fallen into various stages of disrepair.

“In our music classroom, students in grades 2-5 delve into complex music concepts through the use of xylophones, metallophones, and glockenspiels. These instruments are valuable tools that assist in the development of student musicianship through music reading, arranging, and composing” said Otten, who is in her third year with the district and teaches music to an estimated 680 students.

To receive the grant, Otten completed the MRTF application, including materials needed, a plan of action, and a budget. With the grant monies, ten classroom xylophone stations will be restored. Broken parts will be replaced for functionality and better sound. A rolling platform will be built for each xylophone so learning space can convert easily to facilitate group work and collaboration.”

Next steps include the immediate purchase of all required replacement and restorative materials. Volunteers will be called to assist in cleaning, stripping, and repairing the instruments. In addition, another team offered to build xylophone stations on wheels that would allow instrument stations to easily be moved around the classroom.

The project timeline includes a restoration process throughout the month of September. The new instrument stations are expected to be ready for student use in the music classroom in October. The new stations will likely be featured in concerts in December 2017 and March 2018.

Otten said she has wanted to be a music teacher since age 16.

“I have wanted to be a music educator since age 16. I was inspired to pursue a career in collaborative music making and K-12 teaching by my high school choir director, Mrs. Mary Rashid in Walled Lake, Michigan. During my studies in music education at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, I discovered that I had a bit of a knack for teaching at the elementary level. My college mentors, Dr. Deborah VanderLinde and Dr. Jackie Wiggins taught me to be innovative in my lesson planning. They taught me how to seek out resources and design experiences that would best enable my students to construct their own understanding of music. My purpose is to help all of my students feel invested in our process as a community of music makers.”


Her work has earned the appreciation of at least one of her administrators.

“Chelsea Otten is a treasure to our district,” said Bethany Morris, principal of Hallsville Intermediate School. She is well loved by students and staff for her caring demeanor and warmth of spirit. She does a phenomenal job teaching music, but more importantly she teaches kids to try new things, take risks, and find their passions. Mrs. Otten is remarkable and the students of Hallsville are blessed to have her as their music teacher.”