PSO Explorers

GRADE K, 1, 2

Twice-monthly classroom lessons in a Portland Public School from PSO musicians using music to enhance literacy education.

Preparation, participation, and follow-up by classroom teachers

Joint lesson planning with PSO staff, classroom teachers, and school music teacher

Currently in the kindergarten classroom and first-grade classrooms at the Reiche Community School and Longfellow Elementary School.


The Portland Press Herald, Dec. 5, 2016 article and video:
Portland Symphony Orchestra musicians enhance learning at Portland elementary schools: A recent $600,000 grant will enable the PSO Explorers program to expand and continue through 2020.
By Bob Keyes, Staff Writer

WCSH6 video:  PSO & Reiche School team up to improve literacy
Caroline Cornish, WCSH 6:15 PM. EST November 11, 2016

Portland Symphony Orchestra grant will bring music to kids
Associated Press Published: September 29, 2016 11:16 PM CDT Updated: September 29, 2016 11:16 PM CDT


Listed below are the professional musicians on staff. Not listed are the numerous professional musicians volunteers who also give their time in the classroom.


Reiche Community School Kindergarten

  • Yasmin Craig Vitalius
  • Luis Ibáñez

Reiche Community School First Grade

  • Barbara Paschke

Reiche Community School Second Grade

  • Joe Holt

Longfellow Kindergarten

  • Kim Lehmann
  • George Calvert
  • Laurie Kennedy

Longfellow First Grade

  • Brian Thacker

What population does PSO Explorers serve?
The PSO Explorers program was established in 2014 by the Portland Symphony as a vehicle to integrate classical music directly into the Portland Public School System. An application process to the program was opened to Portland Public Elementary Schools in 2013.

The Reiche Elementary School was chosen based partly on teacher desire and motivation to partner in the program’s success and also its need:IMG_0609

43% ELL
69% Reduced School Lunch – 16% higher than district average)

PSO Explorers serves students at the Reiche Community School and Longfellow Elementary School with plans to grow the program each successive year up one grade until the program is active in Grades K-3 at both schools.

The PSO Explorers program was established in 2014 by the Portland Symphony as a vehicle to integrate classical music directly into the Portland Public School System.

This year, PSO Explorers is serving more than 360 school children, one school, four public school teachers and employing 9 PSO Professional Musicians.

What are the core components of PSO Explorers?

Arts integrated curriculum specifically designed for the classrooms that participate

Classroom materials for teachers and students including musical activities, instruments, props and other educational materials

Professional development for teachers

On-going evaluation and assessment by teachers, PSO staff/musicians and third party consultants.

How does PSO Explorers work?
Specially designed curriculum: PSO staff and musicians meet with educators in the late summer to plan out full year curriculum including musical lessons designed to meet the curricular needs of the public school educators.

Classroom Lessons led by professional PSO musicians: Each student experiences a live lesson led by a PSO musician twice monthly during a 30-minute lesson.

Classroom materials for teachers and students: Materials and resources are provided to assist teachers in implementing PSO Explorers in the classroom. These materials may include simple instruments, digital music, other resources, including follow-up material such as worksheets and coloring pages.

Ongoing evaluation and assessment
Teachers fill out brief feedback surveys for each lesson. All those involved with the program have an annual end of school year wrap-up session to assess and plan for the following year. The PSO Explorers program is not only loved by educators but by PSO musicians as well. The program aims to build valuable and lasting relationships between educators and the PSO musicians that live and work in their community.

Honor Achievement
In 2015, the PSO Explorers team was awarded the Yale Distinguished Music Educators Award for their work at the Reiche School. PSO musicians and staff, the first class of Kindergarten teachers, and Reiche music teacher Alyson Ciechomski visited Yale during the Music in Schools Symposium to receive this award.






Thank you to our Season Sponsors the Maine Arts Commission, Top of the Old Port Parking managed by Dirigo Management Company; PSO Pops! Series Sponsor Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram; Official Hotel Holiday Inn by the Bay; and Education Partner IDEXX.
Top of the Old Port Dirigo Management Company Maine Arts Commission Holiday Inn by the Bay Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram IDEXX