Our 1st Place Winner, Dana McKinney (Educator in Jonesboro, AR) 1.       Have you always had a green approach to teaching your KI Jonesboro class?

Yes, our city of Jonesboro started their recycling program right after my family and I moved here in 1995. We began participating immediately by recycling all #1 & #2 plastics, clear glass, aluminum cans, newspapers & cardboard. I started my KM business a year later and I wanted to continue that same proactive approach there as well.

2. We all know what we should do when it comes to protecting the environment. What inspires you to act rather than to passively accept these overwhelming issues?

I was taught at an early age that I should take care of what I have, take pride in my personal belongings and space, be a good steward of our God given resources, and do my best to make my little corner of the world a little cleaner, healthier, and safer, and better for others. I was raised in the 1970’s & 1980’s when it was common to read the popular slogan “Don’t Be A Litterbug! Keep America Beautiful” on park and street signs.  It was a time when littering was considered an unpatriotic thing to do. Unfortunately, as materialism and wealth have increased in our nation over the next two decades, many citizens became complacent and the overabundance of trash and lack of landfill space became a real concern. It is encouraging to see that the campaign for “going green” is a way to bring the public awareness back to the forefront so Americans will become proactive with their efforts to conserve and recycle.

3.     You said you used digital Kindermusik@Home materials for 5 out of 24 classes! How is that improving your sustainability?

We are using the digital home materials for Wiggle & Grow and Laugh & Learn in our studio location. We are also using the DHM for all of our ABC Music & Me classes (Laugh & Learn and Move & Groove) in the area preschools and daycare facilities. Using the DHM has cut down on our shipping costs, eliminated the use of boxes and packing paper, tape, and more waste from the packaging of the physical products such as cardboard inserts and shrink wrap.  It has been a positive move for our program.

4.  Awesome. Do you feel like you generally have a positive response from parents and students when you encourage green practices? What behaviors are hardest to change?

The parents have been pleased with all of the exciting interactive games, videos and listening and problem solving activities. The parents really like having them at their fingertips on their smart phone or IPAD in the Doctor’s office or grocery store. Our parents have expressed that their children are always excited to see their new monthly materials and listen to their class music and have their book read to them.  It has been exciting for me to experience their excitement as they join in singing the songs and reading the book along with me in class.   My students’ parents like the easy access, and the volume and variety of music and activities that they are receiving with the digital home materials. They have expressed that they would like to have the option of purchasing the physical book for their child. I was pleased to hear that KI is going to make that possible for our families now.

5.       How do you think Kindermusik can improve its curriculum, products, or messaging to be a more sustainable company?

My student’s Parents like the easy access, and the volume and variety of music and activities that they are receiving with the digital home materials, but they have expressed that they would like to have the option of purchasing the physical book for their child. I was pleased to hear that KI is going to make that possible for our families now. I think we can continue to meet parent’s needs in the marketplace by continuing to work hard toward the “green” efforts but also to make our quality books and instruments available as an extra optional purchase on the my.kindermusik.com page. I also believe that KI is doing an exceptional job of staying paper free by beefing up their efforts in communicating with parents and teachers in the cyber world on Facebook, Minds on Music blog and having a strong presence on GOOGLE. Those are fine examples of how we as educators can take full advantage of promoting our program and reaching our prospective families by simply being proactive in using the paperless avenues that are available for free or for a minimum cost.

6.  Thanks! You’ve done so much already to make sustainability a priority. Do you have goals set to continue to improve?

I am planning to continue using the DHM and monthly units of Wiggle & Grow,  Laugh & Learn and Move & Groove in my program. I like to keep things fresh, fun and innovative in my classes and I feel that the new units offer those things while still maintaining a strong commitment of excellence in music education and child development.  I plan to continue to use the DHM in all of the classes that I am currently offering with the exception of Village and KM for the Young Child. I think that the digital home materials for our Village babies in the same format that they are now will be a hard sell because of the screen time issue. However I am certainly open to making the music available to Village families in a digital downloadable format, with some short musical videos like the Do Re You and Me “Bubbles on Me” DVD and still making the book and instrument an optional purchase for the parents. I had several parents of babies that purchased that particular video from me when I was a DRMY representative. They told me time and time again how their babies beamed when they watched that DVD showing the babies with the bubbles, animals and parents dancing and moving to the music. They also told me that the slower songs calmed their babies and would help put them to back to sleep if they were up for an early morning feeding.

Thank you and congratulations to Dana for motivating each and every one of us to continue to improve our efforts as a company, in the classroom, and at home!

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