Johnette Downing brings musical teachings to John L. Ory

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 17, 2012



LAPLACE – John L. Ory students who reached specific reading goals prior to the Christmas break were treated to an educational musical performance from a renowned New Orleans author and musician.

Johnette Downing, who had previously taught as a musical artist in residence at Ory, returned to the school for two performances for students who achieved specific accelerated reading goals during the second nine weeks of classes. Downing performed several songs based on children’s books she has written over the years.

A morning performance was held for the younger grades, and an afternoon show was done for the older students. During her performances, Downing often engages the students and encourages them to participate by following along with her hand movements.

“The younger children are much more engaged, and it doesn’t take much to get them going,” Downing said. “The older group gets involved, but you have to warm them up a bit.”

Downing, a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, has been performing and writing for more than 20 years. She said her parents were both musicians, and they encouraged her to embrace her creative skills for educational purposes.

John L. Ory Principal Terri Noel explained that students in the school have an established reading level, and they are encouraged to read specific books in the library set at their level. Each book has a computerized comprehension quiz tied to it that must be taken as part of the accelerated reading program. She said goals are set every nine weeks based on reading ability. Those students who reached the goals were invited to take in the performance.

Noel said Downing’s appearance was made possible through a grant from the River Region Arts and Humanities Council. She said the school has used the grant for past performances at the school.