Barry Ross and Jane Rooks Ross: Educating Through Music

This year’s Diether Haenicke Promise of Excellence Award, sponsored by Bronson Healthcare, has been awarded to Barry Ross and Jane Rooks Ross. Last week, CIS board member Carolyn H. Williams presented the prestigious award to this most deserving couple during the 12th Annual Champs Celebration.

Plato said that music “is a more potent instrument than any other for education.” He was on to something. We now know that music affects the whole child. Emotionally and socially it serves as a vehicle for expression and connection. Physically it promotes coordination. Music education enhances children’s cognitive abilities and the resilience needed to overcome challenges and pursue excellence.

No duo has infused this vital gift of music into our children’s lives more than Barry Ross and Jane Rooks Ross. Together, they have brought joy through music to the children and youth of Kalamazoo. They have created experiences to hear music, experience music, learn music, and connect through music. Music permeates all areas of life, and through their vision, collaboration, and endless efforts, Barry and Jane have touched so many lives in our community. 

They have contributed new and creative ways to share their love of music to inspire human potential. Family Discovery Concerts, Marvelous Music, the Instrument Petting Zoo, Kalamazoo Junior Symphony and Kalamazoo Kids In Tune reflect just some of their endeavors.

It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, if you’re a child or a young adult—you are “in” with Barry and Jane. They have used their incredible musical talents to inspire and motivate children of all ages, starting with three to four year old’s in Marvelous Music all the way to the Junior Symphony and college-goers and beyond, inspiring the most gifted of young musicians. You could watch Jane with a four-year-old participant in Marvelous Music or Barry helping a third grader make his first violin out of cardboard for Kids In Tune, and see the same enthusiasm and passion as when they meet a KSO concert soloist.

They believe that every child should have the benefit of participating and enjoying all kinds of music—and they have devoted their professional lives to making that happen. They have used classical music to spearhead their efforts and believe that all children can understand and enjoy its complexity.

Two individuals, like musical chords, reflect both harmony and distinct differences. Diether Haenicke would be especially pleased that the Promise of Excellence Award, named for him, is given this year to Jane Rooks Ross and Barry Ross for their exceptional and varied contributions to the children and young people of Kalamazoo. 

Please join me in congratulating Barry Ross and Jane Rooks Ross, this year’s recipients of the Diether Haenicke Promise of Excellence.

Over the next few months we’ll be spotlighting more of those honored at this year’s Champs Celebration. So keep up with us at Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids.