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Elders Wisdom, Children's Song Partner Programs

West Metro Education Program (WMEP)

The mission of WMEP is to build the collective capacity of its members; to raise the achievement of all students; to eliminate the racial achievement gap; and to prepare all learners to thrive in a diverse world through regional leadership, integrated learning opportunities, shared resources, and mutual support.

To learn more about the program, visit wmep.k12.mn.us.

Elders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song™ South Dakota

Children in South DakotaFor over a decade, the communities of Spearfish and Custer, South Dakota, have used the Elders Wisdom, Children’s Song™ educational model to help bring together different generations in their communities. Elders share their lives with elementary school students, who then take those stories and write a narrative of the elder's life and, with the help of a regional songwriter, compose a song to honor the elder.


Beginning in 1999, East Elementary School has honored dozens of elders from the community through their annual Elders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song programs.

Custer, South Dakota

Beginning with the 2005-2006 school year, Custer Elementary School has honored elders from their community through their annual Elders' Wisdom, Children's Songs programs.

In 2008, SDPB’s Dakota Life series visited Custer, South Dakota, to capture the interviews and Community Celebration of Elders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song.

To learn more about the program and see recent celebrations, visit www.elderswisdomchildrenssongsouthdakota.com.

PACERS: Celebrating Appalachian Communities

Throughout Appalachia there are examples of celebrations and festivals that have positive financial outcomes and improved community resilience and well-being. With generous assistance from the Appalachian Regional Commission, PACERS builds upon and expands this tradition by holding comprehensive multi-day workshops in Section (Jackson County) and Camp Hill (Tallapoosa County) that develop replicable models for community festivals/celebrations while jointly training young people and community members to document their communities through the arts. Workshops include sessions on festival/celebration publicity and organizational requirements. Workshops are two- to three-day events and will set the foundation for a local celebration. They are preceded and followed by school-based opportunities for students to undertake community documentation and celebration projects (e.g. photo essays, music or video CDs).

Workshop leaders have includes Dr. Jay Lamar, Director of the Center for Arts and Humanities; Larry Long, creator of Elders Wisdom Childrens Song; Andrew Goetz, nationally-recognized photographer (www.goetzphoto.com); Fred Fluker, graphic designer; and Dr. Jennifer Adams, Director of the Journalism Program Auburn University. Local teachers, musicians, and other community members have also participated in the workshops and in school settings.


I had the most awesome musical experience of my life—when I heard the fourth grade children at Eagle Heights Spanish Immersion school sing “Your Song” honoring our Elders! One of the elders was my son John. WHAT A SONG!

Thank You, Jack Tschida

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News & Events

Sonnesyn Elementary School will host an Elders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song celebration honoring three community elders in their gym on Thursday, February 5, 2015, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM.

The entire American Roots Revue Five-City Legacy Summer Tour ensemble is reuniting to perform at the Dakota Jazz Club in downtown Minneapolis on September 14, 2014!

Emerson Spanish Immersion Learning Center will host a community celebration honoring Dr. Josie R Johnson on Friday, May 23, 2014. Students will be performing a song in honor of Dr. Josie R. Johnson entitled Listen To Each Other Now.