Cambridge, Massachusettes,  June 18, 2001

The Riverdeep Interactive Learning “I Make a Difference Award” honors teachers who are making a positive impact in the lives of their students.  At the National Education and Computing Conference (NECC) in Chicago this month, Riverdeep will honor Linda King, a middle school piano teacher from Lubbock, Texas who is making an extraordinary difference with her innovative piano lab. 

“Students in today’s society face frustrations and often a lack of success in school grades and perhaps even in their family lives, but when they walk through the doors of the piano lab and sit down with their headphones, they go into a world created by them,” stated King.  “The piano lab takes students from grades 7-9, boys and girls, wealthy and poor, and gives them a place to nurture intellect and creative potential.”

With more than three-quarters of its students economically-disadvantaged, supporting a piano lab could have easily dropped to the bottom of Cavazos Junior High School’s priority list.  But King was determined to make sure that did happen.  She quickly discovered that students excelled in the lab after the structure was changed from group lessons to individual instruction.  With the freedom to express their talents in an individual manner, students progressed rapidly and that progress carried over to other subjects. 

According to King, in as little as six weeks, her students began to understand the correlation between music and math skills.  They began seeing the connection between the musical concepts of intervals, note values, and chord building and their studies of fractions and whole numbers.  The students who had studied the scientific characteristics of sound were able to see those lessons come to life when their own music’s wave lengths appeared on a computer screen with the help of music software.  And in classes where oral presentations are part of the curriculum, the piano lab students continue to demonstrate an increased level of confidence due in part to their practice performing in front of audiences.  The piano lab students currently perform at numerous annual competitions, earning top ratings for their performances.  "It is truly a pleasure to honor Linda with this award,” commented Gail Elizabeth Pierson, Riverdeep president and chief operating officer.  “She represents that invaluable spark that makes a classroom shine, that spark that makes children light up and realize the endless potential they have.  That’s what the I Make a Difference Award is all about.”