“Music education is imperative for anyone to grow up complete.”—Paul Harvey

Founded in 1995, Music in the Schools Foundation (MIS) is dedicated to inspiring children and youth to participate in music as a fundamental part of their education. At no cost to the district or to the students, MIS provides music instruction in Pre-K through 8th grade in East Palo Alto.

MIS has provided mentor teachers to the Ravenswood middle school band directors who had no previous experience teaching strings. MIS mentorship not only ensures their success teaching strings, but also builds a strong orchestra program, preparing students to participate in the high school orchestra. 

In addition, MIS offers after-school programs including string ensemble with violin, viola, and cello and after-school international folk dancing. These programs provide additional performance opportunities for our students.  Our teachers offer inspiring instruction in a supportive environment, where students are encouraged to experience the joy of music while developing music literacy. A strong music program supports academic success and Music in the Schools Foundation works tirelessly to help students achieve that success.

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Our Mission

Music In the Schools Foundation, through music literacy and achievement, promotes the intellectual, social and cultural development of underserved students in the Ravenswood City School District and at Izzi Early Childhood Education. We seek to bring our programs to underserved communities on the Peninsula and in the South Bay.

Our Program Director

kyle1.jpgIn August 2015, Kyle Sofman joined MIS as Program Director. Kyle is a champion of the arts in schools and believes it should be and integral part of the instructional day and not just an extra curricular activity. She knows that every child can learn and that music provides a unique mode of expression not possible in other subjects. It is Kyle’s hope that the music program will provide students with a solid foundation in musical skills, but also a love of music that goes beyond the classroom. She is supportive of teachers, having taught music in the Bay Area since 1996. She strives to foster a strong sense of community amongst the MIS and RCSD music teachers, helping them feel connected to each other and to the schools where they teach.

In addition to her role at MIS, Kyle teaches preschool music at Whistle Stop Child Development Center in Palo Alto and music classes for Special Needs adults at the Community School of Music and Arts in Mountain View. For many years, during the summer, she created and taught 2-week summer camps including music and art for young children.

Outside of teaching, Kyle performs with the Peninsula Women’s Chorus where she has been the section leader for the 1st Sopranos since 2001, managed volunteers, and served on the Board of Directors. She received a Bachelor’s of Music Education at Oberlin College and a Masters in Music Education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In 2015, she received her Certificate in Nonprofit Management from San Francisco State.

Michel2

Music Specialist Michel Hardbarger’s pre-school classes at the RCSD Child Development Center are engaging and fun. She routinely incorporates body movement, basic rhythm instruments, and singing into her classes.  Michel’s energetic teaching is strongly influenced by Orff techniques with hands-on learning. Classroom teachers affirm that Michel’s music classes are one of the special times of the week for their students, and they’re grateful that MIS provides this educational experience for their students. Michel began teaching International Folk Dance at Los Robles Magnet Academy starting in the 2018-19 school year and will offer the same class at Willow Oaks starting in the 2019-20 school year. 

During her tenure at MIS, at the request of her beloved students, Michel led a ukulele club for 4-5th graders at Willow Oaks and has taught general music to students in Kindergarten, first, and second grade at Willow Oaks and Belle Haven Elementary School.

Benita Hopkins EditedBenita Hopkins has taught viola, voice, and piano, as well as general music in the classroom. She has deep roots in local communities. Motivated by an abiding sense of justice (one of Benita’s favorite quotations of Dr. King’s is, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”), she has spent considerable time and energy working to improve lives locally and internationally.

Benita is the current Director of Education for the local nonprofit Generations United, which works with underserved children and families in Redwood City, empowering them to reach their full potential. Formerly, she was Director of Community Education and Engagement for Love Never Fails, an organization committed to the local trafficked population.

Benita has worked in Ghana, west Africa, serving with CORM Ghana at their Faith Roots International Academy and 7Continents in their workforce development and prevention education programs for children and families vulnerable to trafficking along the Lake Volta Region.

Benita is a recent graduate of Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids, Michigan and a recent graduate of the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative. She was awarded “2015 Abolitionist of the Year” for Education by the San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking and the “Working Women’s Award” by the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Santa Clara Valley in 2011. She is on the Board of S.H.A.D.E. (Survivors Healing and Dedicated to Empowerment) and the Co-Chair of the San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking.

In her spare time, she is the Principal Violist in the Mission College Symphony.

LeonidLeonid Fridman, the MIS after-school strings teacher, graduated as a cellist from the N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov Saint Petersburg State Conservatory in Russia. He has worked as a principal cellist of a music theater orchestra, a cello teacher, and a conductor. When Mr. Fridman moved to the United States in 1994, he began teaching at private music schools and playing in chamber ensembles. Leonid brings over 20 years of teaching experience and currently maintains a private music studio in Palo Alto. Mr. Fridman believes all children should have access to music education and he is excited to bring the joy of music to Los Robles and Willow Oaks.

Board of Directors

  • Virginia Fruchterman, Chair
  • Jon Ellis, Treasurer
  • David Jones, Secretary
  • Patricia Pietrzyk
  • Nancy Coffey

Advisory Board

  • Signe Boyer
  • Marco Chavez
  • Nancy Fiene
  • Arturo Flores
  • Rufina Gorin
  • Kyomi Masatani
  • David Sloss
  • Benjamin Simon