By Noah Flack

Emily Hendricks, an early elementary music teacher at Archway Classical Academy, recently had her wish granted as part of the Desert Financial Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers program. Every year Fiesta Bowl Charities awards grants to teachers across Arizona to help with classroom supplies, new lesson plans and technology. This year, it was more critical than ever.

“I may be biased, but my students are the best around. They love to learn through making, listening to, and reading about music, and they are filled with joy and excitement while doing so,” Hendricks says.

Hendricks used her $2,500 grant to retool her students’ music learning experience. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, her students haven’t been able to sing in class. Instead, she has turned to instruments that don’t require facial contact. The grant went to purchase a classroom set of Boomwhackers, ukuleles and a digital keyboard.
The students have already been using the new Boomwhackers, which are lightweight hollow percussion instruments, and she is looking forward to creating a ukulele club with smaller groups.

“When I pull out the Boomwhackers, the students are all excited and say ‘Oh my gosh!’ and they point at them and ask if we get to play with them,” Hendricks says.

Making an even greater impact, the instruments are used by other teachers and students throughout the school, making it a gift for all.

“I am blessed to get to teach students who look out for each other, making sure each student has an equal opportunity to learn,” Hendricks says. “With the granting of this wish, students will experience music in a different way, which will help enhance their development in reading, writing and arithmetic.”

The music class grant is just one of many grants donated to schools in the Desert Financial Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers program. In the past five years, the Fiesta Bowl has donated $3.7 million to nearly 850 teachers across Arizona. Wishes are varied and span across many different subjects and age groups including literacy, sensory and technology upgrades.