Seven Oaks School Division would like to congratulate Alexander Michelthwate (Music Director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and co-founder of Sistema Winnipeg) on winning the 2018 President's Council Award.
Co-founder of Sistema Winnipeg in 2011 at Elwick Community School. Sistema Winnipeg is a daily, intensive, music education program that focuses on children with the fewest resources and greatest need. It delivers musical training to children after school for three hours a day, five days a week, at no cost to families. Sistema Winnipeg encourages children to reach their full potential and inspires greater social change within the community.
Alexander has played a pivotal role in the ongoing development and success of this program. It has grown from one site and 30 students from grades 1-3 to two sites and 160 students from grades 1 – 9. The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra recently announced endowments of $500,000 each year from Michael Nozick and Tannis Richardson matched by the Government of Canada. This endowment fund makes possible significant future expansion of this wonderful program.
Over the past six years Alexander has worked directly with students as well as conducted numerous Sistema Winnipeg concerts. One only needs to observe Alexander in action with the students to see his genuine interest in their growth. He knows them my name and they know him. He has also been a strong public advocate for the program. He has taken every opportunity to speak to the importance of Sistema at WSO concerts, on radio and on television.
Since its inception in 2011, the WSO has worked with a researcher at the University of Manitoba to conduct an evaluative long-term study of Sistema Winnipeg. To date the study has found a closing of the gaps between children’s standardized reading and mathematical achievement levels. Instances of tardiness and absenteeism are significantly lower and school suspensions have dropped dramatically.
Children are making gains in confidence, concentration, focus, communications skills, presence, pride, impulse control, identity and outgoingness. Children are also making gains in making friends, general behaviour, responsibility, contributing to household chores, teamwork, conflict resolution, decision-making, respect for people and property, cultural integration, sense of safety and lower stress levels.
Best of all, 100% of surveyed parents believe their child is more confident and 98% are more optimistic about their child’s future.
We are extremely proud and grateful to be in partnership with Alexander Michelthwate and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. Words cannot fully express the value of this partnership. Alexander’s passion and commitment to bringing Sistema to Winnipeg has enabled us to provide children with an educational, musical experience that could not be otherwise. In the words of the children when asked "How has your life or the kinds of things you do each day, been changed since you have been involved in Sistema?" – "feels good, happier, better when I take part, big part of my life, better with Sistema, it gives me stuff to do, it’s like my whole life changed, new people, new friends."