In celebration of Music In Our Schools Month (MIOSM), Melinda and Peter Gerard announced in a press release on Friday, March 3rd the formation of the Loti Falk Gaffney Pell Elementary School Music Empowerment Trust also known as the Pell Inspiration Program (PIP), a program to introduce the students of Pell Elementary School to inspired musicians through an artists-in-residence program. The Trust was formed under the Newport Public Education Foundation (NPEF), which provides grants supporting unique classroom experiences in Newport’s Public Schools.

“Inspiration begets inspiration and the goal of the PIP is to expose students to artists that are inspired by what they do and who they are,” stated Peter Gerard when discussing the newly formed trust with NPEF board members in the press release. “This is not a concert program, but rather one that brings the artists into the conventional education setting and creates an unconventional disruptive experience with the students, allowing them to see and feel what it means to be inspired by something.”

Using music as the medium, the typical engagement will be a three-day program where the artists are in and around the school with their music in different settings, almost like street musicians in the great cities. By not being constrained by the typical stage audience relationship, the goal and hope for this initiative is to make this experience truly personal and rewarding for the students.

In addition, each residency will include a parent engagement event, providing an opportunity for students and their parents to share this experience together. Our dream is to promote the appreciation of this music for everyone.

Pell PIP is not a program about learning musical instruments. It is about our Pell Elementary students being inspired and creating an impact that lasts a lifetime.

The first Pell Inspiration Program (PIP) will take place this month, March 22-24. The Bohemian Quartet will be the first Artists-in-Residence group. The current plan is to have four or more programs per year, each with a different artist group.

A benefit event is planned for this summer in order to expand resources in support of the program and insure its long-term continuity and sustainability.

Board of Trustees for the Loti Falk Gaffney Pell Elementary School Music Empowerment Trust includes Melinda and Peter Gerard, founders of the program; Virginia Gambale, President of the Newport Music Festival Board; Dennis and Roseanne Williams, Mr. Williams is Chairman of the Palm Beach Opera and a member of the Board of the Newport Music Festival; Keith Taveras, President of the Newport Public Education Foundation; and Colleen Jermain, Superintendent of the Newport Public Schools.

Melinda and Peter Gerard live in Dallas, Texas and have had a home in Newport for almost 20 years. Loti Falk Gaffney was Mr. Gerard’s mother and a life-long supporter of the arts and the musical arts in particular. She was instrumental in the founding of the Pittsburgh Ballet and a long-time board member of the Pittsburgh Symphony. She was also a strong believer in the importance of the Public School System and the importance of the arts for students. Mrs. Gaffney passed away in October 2015.

Source: The information included within was provided via a press release by Newport Public Schools.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).