Crone is a singer, songwriter, dramatist and educator. His evenings
are spent sharing his songs with friends at pubs, coffeehouses
and festivals. In the day, he spends his time with his company,
"Educationalive", visiting schools for workshops and
performing in concerts. When he is not busy doing this, he works
with The Royal Conservatory of Music and their "Learning
Through the Arts" program. As an artist with this program,
Joe works with both teachers and their students, and designs
and implements lessons that incorporate the arts into many curriculum
areas. He has also developed "The Complete Phonics Program",
a music and games based phonics program that has met with much
success in helping students master the complexities of the English
language. See: www.completephonics.com
for more details.
in 1989, he has taught music and drama to students from kindergarten
through to grade 12, and has been a classroom teacher for children
from the 4th to 8th grades. He has taught in the York Region
District School Board in Ontario for 12 years and recently on
the island of Saipan for 3 years. He is also a regular teacher
at the York Region District School Board's Arts Camp, teaching
songwriting to students from grade 7 to grade 12. He has specialist
certification in dramatic arts from the Ontario Ministry of
Education and has recorded 4 CDs of original music for children
that focus on curriculum concepts and character education themes.
"On the Island" is a collection of his songs for the
adult listener. As a teacher and an artist, Joe believes that
learning should be a joyful and exciting adventure and should
reflect the various learning styles of his students. For this
reason, he integrates the arts as much as possible while working
with children. And to help parents and teachers do the same,
his children's CDs have booklets with all the guitar chords
and words to his songs. The CD Geometry Park even has a teacher's
guide with step by step instructions about how to integrate
the arts into many subject areas.Teaching through music, art
and drama creates learning experiences that students will simply
desire to learn about the world has led him to travels in India,
Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Fiji
and the island of Saipan. These extensive travels in Asia and the
Pacific focused on independent cultural studies including the studying
of Tai Chi, Yoga, and Asian religious traditions. Development education
was also a focus of these travels and included volunteering at Mother
Theresa's Home for the Dying Destitute in Varanasi, India, and creating
a craft importing business in order to fund a literacy project for
women in the rural Kathmandu valley. His time in Fiji was spent
with Canadian Crossroads International working for the department
of agriculture and at a sheltered workshop for developmentally challenged
adults. Joe's latest overseas adventure was on the island of Saipan
where he taught at Whispering Palms School for 3 years and was known
as "Uncle Joe" to his students in grades 4, 5 and 6. At
the bottom of this bio is an article that appeared in "Professionally
Speaking", the magazine of the Ontario College of Teachers.
to teaching Joe worked at group homes for developmentally challenged
adults and for troubled youth. He has also worked at summer camps
for developmentally challenged adults, youth and children, camps
for physically challenged adults, and with Native children from
the Moose Factory and Moosonee area in Northern Ontario.
Letter from Saipan
by Joe Crone
Uncle Joe, I think Snuffybum is going to have more babies."
Amber reaches up to give me a hug. Snuffybum is a guinea pig.
"Where's that belly button?" That's Colin. Before
he starts his day he has to place his index finger into my belly
button. Don't ask me why.
"Uncle Joe, that was a great hike we went on yesterday,
but I thought we were lost for sure," says Steven. He,
my son Dylan and I found a great hiking trail through some old-growth
forest on Sunday.
"Uncle Joe, I've got your family signed up for the tennis
tournament this coming weekend," says Uncle Peter, sticking
his head inside the door.
"Great, Uncle Peter. We'll be there," I respond. I'm
looking forward to trying out my new racquet.
"I can't wait to go camping on Managaha Island. When do
we go, Uncle Joe?" ask both Bo Yoon and Kanani, looking
at me with excitement.
This isn't a family reunion on a long summer weekend. It's Monday
morning in my classroom, about 20 minutes before school starts.
For the past three years I have been teaching at Whispering
Palms School on the island of Saipan. Saipan is part of the
Mariana Islands. It is a five-by-fifteen kilometre island east
of the Philippines, south of Japan, north of Papua, New Guinea
- and a world unto itself.
Joe" and his 16 students from Grades 4, 5 and 6
known as Uncle Joe to all 52 students enrolled at the school. I
teach the 16 students in Grades 4, 5 and 6.
In June of 2001, while teaching with the York Region District School
Board, I received a call from Uncle Tom - the owner and principal
of Whispering Palms. Someone visiting Saipan had passed on my name
and phone number to him.
He described a school that was a family, where all the teachers
and parents were Auntie or Uncle, where the entire school went camping
together for three days on Managaha, the island in the middle of
the lagoon, where everyone - from Kindergarten to Grade 8 - participated
in quality dramatic productions twice a year, a place with high
academic expectations and traditions, where love was nurtured.
After three weeks of calls back and forth, our family decided to
sell ev-erything we owned and move to the other side of the world.
During that last phone conversation I remembered to ask Tom what
his last name was. That's just the way it is on Saipan.
Teaching here has been an incredibly enriching experience. I've
had the bounty of being the classroom teacher for my oldest boy,
Keenan, for two years, and my youngest boy, Dylan, for one year.
This has taught me the importance of developing individualized lessons
and expectations that cater to a child's unique needs and abilities.
am a village teacher. My students' parents are my friends. This
has made me realize the impact that our words and actions, as
teachers, have on the lives of our students. I have realized
that the most important thing in teaching is the love and respect
in the relationship between a student and a teacher. I have
also realized that it is much easier to develop this in a classroom
of 16 children than in a class of 35.
It hasn't all been roses here. There have been the obvious cultural
adjustments for both me and my family. Despite living on a tropical
island, I am still a very busy teacher. The di-fference, however,
is that everything I do now is directly related to the education
and well-being of my students. At a school where there are four
full-time staff members, for example, if you want an extracurricular
activity to take place, you do it. Because my own two boys have
been my students, I've realized first-hand how important those
extras are, and I've gladly run the chess club, dramatic productions,
pizza lunches and soccer team. I've even learned how to make
portable soccer goals out of discarded PVC tubes. Resourcefulness
is an asset on Saipan. I'm in the process now of starting an
island-wide soccer league.
Crone with students Dylan (his son, holding Snuffybum) and
first, it seemed that moving to Saipan was a tremendous risk. I
was letting go of everything that I'd been told was important. But
that risk has been repaid a thousand times over in a tremendous
amount of personal and professional growth.
I will return to Ontario, probably next year, but I'm not sure for
how long. It's a pretty fascinating world here, and I feel that
I've only just begun.
Crone has been teaching since 1989 and is also a singer-songwriter.