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dawn hardy

FSC Student Making an Impact in Education

Dawn Hardy

Sep 10, 2021

Students in Florida Southern College’s Doctor of Education program are making an impact in the community even before they graduate. Dawn Hardy, Bartow Middle School’s Band Director, is one example of a doctoral student transforming the skills she has developed in coursework into action. At the start of the 2020-2021 school year, Ms. Hardy knew her middle school band students would not have the same chance that students have had in previous years to perform in a concert because of COVID-19 safety concerns. Instead, Ms. Hardy sought out a new opportunity for her students using the skills she learned in her throughout the doctoral program. “Being in the EdD program as well as the Community Collaborations course, helped me understand the importance of details of grants such as timelines, and ideas on how to draw in the community,” Ms. Hardy stated.

She applied for a grant that was offered through a partnership with The Universal Orlando Foundation and Polk County Public Schools. She learned about the opportunity initially from the Fine Arts Supervisor at the Polk Country Public School District Office. The grant included hiring a composer to commission a piece of music for her band program at Bartow Middle School. “I wanted to give the students an opportunity to truly call something their own and to get to experience what goes into composing a new piece of music from start to premiere,” Ms. Hardy explained. She specifically partnered with Tyler Arcari from Excelsia Music, based here in Lakeland, Florida.

The result was a newly composed piece of music attributed to Bartow Middle School called “Coming Back.” This concert band piece of music is available for purchase at JW Pepper and can be heard here: The music is described on the JW Pepper website as “uplifting and hopeful, a majestic opening gives way to a light and tuneful melody. The overall tone of this piece is bright and optimistic with an ending that is rhythmic and joyous.”

Since the premiere in May 2021, Ms. Hardy says, “I have seen a greater sense of pride and a higher level of musicianship in the students. They were able to accomplish something that most students don’t have the opportunity to, and they did it during a pandemic.”

Dr. Melanie Fowler, Doctor of Education Program Coordinator, is not surprised by Ms. Hardy’s initiative. “Dawn’s dedication to her students and music education has always been evident and I feel honored to have her represent the Doctor of Education program and Florida Southern College.” Ms. Hardy is currently working on her dissertation titled “A Case Study on Secondary Band Director Mothers and Their Experiences with Same-Gender Mentorship.”

In October 2021, Bartow Middle School plans to re-premier the piece for the community of Bartow at an outdoor performance since the original premiere was a closed audience.