Bill Wilkinson is in his 23rd year of teaching and has taught most of his career in the Hanford Elementary School District as a junior high and elementary band director. For the past nine years he has served as band director at Woodrow Wilson Jr. High School, where he was once a member of the school’s band decades earlier. The Woodrow Wilson Band program has steadily grown in both size and stature under his leadership. Mr. Wilkinson has also taught in the Lemoore and Strathmore Elementary School Districts. In 2006 he was named the Liberty Middle School (Lemoore) Teacher of the Year and was named the 2015 Best Professional by the Hanford Elementary Teachers Association.
Throughout his career Mr. Wilkinson has been actively serving with CMEA at both the state and local level. He most recently served as President of CMEA Central Section from 2017-2019. Central Section thrived and under Bill’s guidance as the section adhered to its mission empowering educators to inspire students through music education. Bill also served as CASMEC Logistics Coordinator for CMEA from 2012-2017 and was honored with the 2016 CMEA Presidents Award for his efforts. He is a Past President of the Tulare-Kings Music Educators Association where he served from 2007-2009. Bill has actively served with CBDA as well, serving two terms as CBDA’s Vice President from 2005-2009.
What do you see as the major challenges music education will face during your term as a CMEA Executive Board member?
The coming years could prove to be fiscally and politically tumultuous for music education. The threat of reduced funding through fiscal cuts and negative changes in education policy is ominous and we as music educators will need to be prudently prepared to meet these challenges with leadership that provides focused advocacy, pertinent professional development and the means to band together as a unified voice to continue to advance music education regardless of our economic and political state.
What do you see as the major challenges facing CMEA?
CMEA needs to be poised as a leader in protecting and prospering our greatest assets – our member music educators and the students they impact in the wake of a fiscal shortfall. CMEA must continue advocate for the rights of all students to have access to a quality, standards-driven music education during the school day taught by qualified credentialed music teachers. The school districts that doing this are to be lauded for adhering to the law. Unfortunately, there are numerous areas of California where this is not the reality; yes, many school districts offer music ensembles but there is a void in the critical primary grades that needs to be addressed. Music is such a positive and powerful element of a healthy child that we advocate on behalf of those students who are powerless!
How should CMEA respond to these challenges?
I began to study the trumpet in 6th grade at a low-income school in my hometown of Hanford. I was taught in a gutted-out bus because of a lack of funding for a music room, taught by a teacher with a music minor because a credentialed music teacher was not funded. Even in my naivety I was keen to the fact that I was being cheated. This experience left an indelible mark in my narrative. If it happened in my hometown it is still to this day happening in other communities or worse, music education may not be nonexistent. CMEA must be the leader in music education not only at the state level but at the local level as well. We must be seed planters, providing local school districts who are currently lagging in the implementation of music education for all students a taste of what it looks like when students are properly engaged in music; it is a powerful sight to witness. We in turn need to nurture our future music educators. CMEA must continue to provide meaningful opportunities and outreach to our collegiate music education students, investing in our future. In closing, A second grade colleague recently shared with an experience in helping a student through a test prompt. The student was asked what was the difference between Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez? The student promptly answered that Dolores Huerta was rich because she was able to take piano lessons. A profound statement by a young mind! it is this very statement that needs to prompt CMEA to fight to afford each-and- every student in California the opportunity to a vibrant education in the arts.