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Westfield Teacher Helps Scholars Hit All the Right Notes in Connecting to Music

From authoring a collection of interactive children's books to penning the school song at Westfield Charter Academy, Yvette Daniels’ work serves as inspiration for each group of music scholars she teaches.

Daniels, Westfield’s K-6 music teacher, is coming out with her seventh book in May. It’s the latest example of her lifelong interest in music, which blossomed because of her family, continued through high school, and has enabled her to guide National Heritage Academies (NHA) students at Fortis Academy in Ypsilanti and Westfield since it opened in 2019.



“I come from a musical family, we all sing or play an instrument,” she said. “I always enjoyed music and wanted others to enjoy music as well.”

Her upcoming book is “Joyful Song,” and her latest is “Dance, Jump, Hop, and Sing Children’s Song and Picture Book,” which features Daniels’ original songs as well as classics. Her focus was to make the songs repetitive and easy to learn so parents can interact while singing and reading with their children.

“I’ve had kids here that always wanted to do a book, so it’s been an encouragement to them. I look at it more of an encouragement, let them know that they can do it,” Daniels said. “You know, ‘I did it, you can do it, this is what I did.’ It’s kind of neat to be able to show them both sides of it.”

Daniels has shown students how to put music together with programs such as GarageBand and BandLab, laying down a melody and adding to it. Her older students have taken to the process and created their own rhythms and beats.

“It really motivates me when I see how excited they get,” Daniels said. “When they get a rhythm going and they want to share, they want everybody to hear it. I have one group; they were sending me music so fast. I’m like, wait, wait. They had a few of them but then they’ve got another one. ‘You gotta listen to this one!’ I’m like, OK, hold up. We got to slow down a little bit here.”



When Westfield Charter Academy opened in 2019, Daniels was a natural choice to pen the school song for Principal Ira Kleiman. She was excited to be part of starting a new school and to have the opportunity to impart words that could motivate students in tough times.

“I wanted to connect the idea of being a warrior with overcoming challenges that they will face throughout their lives,” she said. “We learn in our Moral Focus curriculum that it’s not the absence of fear but the courage to overcome our fears that makes all the difference. That’s what I wanted our students to get from the song.”
While being a published author several times over is fulfilling, helping scholars form a connection with music like she had years ago is the greatest reward for Daniels.

“They sing, they dance, they pick up the music very quickly,” Daniels said. “The program that I was in (preschool), we would give them the music. When they go home, they listen to it all the time. When they come back, they’re able to hear it. They know the different pitch, the different rhythms, these are just babies.”
 
We are Westfield, Westfield Warriors lyrics
We’re Brave and Strong 
We’re Smart as can be  
We’re Confident and Discipline 
No pressure for me  
We never give up! We never give in! 
We’re moving towards our destiny that’s within 
We are Westfield, Westfield, Warrior (ugh) 
 
Keep up the excellent work, Ms. Daniels!

 
Westfield Charter Academy, a school in Redford Charter Township, Michigan, is a partner school in the National Heritage Academies network of over 90 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 60,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.