True to His School

Dr. Craig McCaffrey Awarded IMEA Outstanding Administrator Honors

Writer / Julie Yates
Photography Provided

Dr. Craig McCaffrey Dr. Craig McCaffrey, principal at Noblesville High School, has been named the Indiana Music Education Association’s Outstanding Administrator of the Year. The annual award recognizes an individual in a leadership position who has supported the advancement of music education. McCaffrey, always true to his school, was nominated by Eric Thornbury, chairman of the school’s music department.

McCaffrey accepted the award during a virtual ceremony. The honor reflects a commitment of both staff and administration to offering a diverse music curriculum. Participation in music courses has doubled in recent years, and currently more students are involved in some form of music than athletics.

In addition, the Noblesville Schools district has been named as one of the Best Communities for Music Education for the fifth year in a row by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation. The distinction celebrates school districts and their communities for promoting full access to music courses for all students, as an important facet of overall education. The lengthy and detailed application was completed and submitted by McCaffrey.

“The development of the music program wouldn’t have happened without the support of the administration,” Thornbury says. “There is synergy happening here of mutual support. The growth has outpaced even our large population growth. The teachers say, ‘What about this idea?’ and the administration says, ‘Yes, we will support that,’ and then they go beyond.”

The list of music courses offered at Noblesville High School is extensive. Some include Advanced Placement status, and students can obtain college credit for electing to take them. Classes currently include two levels of music history, choirs of all levels including four different show choirs, as well as several concert, jazz and advanced bands.

“A principal supports what the community and parents want,” McCaffrey says. “Our music program has grown because of the people leading it. Eric brings the right people in. Success breeds success and gets more people interested.”

The school’s ability to offer two tiers of recording arts courses is one example of how the administration and teachers work together. Each year teachers have an opportunity to propose new classes, and in a recent year the prospect of recording arts was brought to the table. Thornbury was given the go-ahead to write a grant for $30,000 worth of equipment. Space for a classroom was found in an outdated studio for distance learning. Two years later, during a building project, a dedicated addition was developed for the class along with space for several levels of guitar and piano courses.

“If there is a crisis like COVID, you want Dr. McCaffrey to be your administrator,” Thornbury says. “He takes care of teachers so they can take care of kids. He stepped up to the plate and hit a home run when he came up with a safety plan. Gloves, thermometers, plexiglass, bell covers, and special musicians’ masks for horns were provided. We were able to have the choir perform at graduation, and hosted a marching band invitational and showcase without any resulting issues. Being able to perform meant more than ever.”

McCaffrey remains humble with regard to his role in the school’s accomplishments and programs.

“My extent of musical experience is junior high choir, so communications between administration, teachers, parents and the community are important,” McCaffrey says. “The teachers are the ones that do all the work. I just give the green light.”

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