The Rock 'n' Read Project
Bill Jones, Executive Director, came up with the idea of creating a computer lab on a bus with software that uses singing to boost reading. He built the bus, got a bus driver's license, and in Summer 2014, drove the bus to north Minneapolis to serve 200 children. Seeing the fun they had singing and gains they made in reading, Bill was convinced that this could help close the achievement gap. He is motivated by his twin daughters, an American Sign Language outreach coordinator and a speech and language pathology assistant. Bill's former careers were in law, construction, and sales.
Ann C. Kay is a music teacher and consultant at her Center for Lifelong Music Making www.lifelongmusicmaking.org where she launches projects to get people making music. She directs a choir and teaches a class for 5-year-olds for the Northfield Youth Choirs, and trains classroom teachers in how to use music to boost reading and math achievement. Formerly, Ann taught elementary and junior high music, and was associate director of graduate music education and director of the Kodaly Certification Program at the University of St. Thomas. Ann is a Minneapolis public schools alum.
Gail O'Kane is V.P. of Academic Affairs at Minneapolis Community & Technical College (MCTC). She served as interim president of Rochester Community & Technical College (2013-'14), and was associate V.P. for strategy, planning and accountability at MCTC (2011-'13). As education-industry partnership manager for MN State Colleges and Universities system (2005-'11), she supported STEM education across the state. Gail holds a doctorate in neuroscience from MIT. She is the mother of a 12-year-old son in the Minneapolis Public Schools.
Don C. Arnold holds a music education degree from Winona State University. After teaching music for a few years, he attended seminary and served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church for 24 years. Since then, he has been a contractor and helped nonprofits with fundraising, organizational and maintenance needs. He recently chaired the board of Northern Pines Camp & Retreat Center, Park Rapids, MN, and served as the first board chair for The Rock 'n' Read Project.
Gloria Atika, Treasurer, is a product manager for SAP Consultants, where she leverages her specialization in financial and technology areas to provide businesses with resources to maximize growth and profitability opportunities. She graduated from the University of MN with a BS in Agriculture and Food Business Management with a concentration in Accounting and Finance. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time outdoors and cooking up a storm for friends and family. Gloria serves as Treasurer of The Rock 'n' Read Project.
Michelle Bendett is Associate Vocal Music Director at Champlin Park High School, Champlin, MN. Michelle has taught music at the elementary, middle and high school levels since beginning her career in 2000. She earned her Bachelor and Master's of Music Education from the Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida. Michelle is an active adjudicator, clinician, and honor choir conductor.
Tom Brown, is currently the director of sales for IntePro IQ, a cyber security company. Formerly, he was a general sales manager for Walser Automotive Group, and has held many positions in sales and finance. Tom is passionate about helping the Rock 'n' Read Project reach its mission and goals.
Julie Moore Rapacki joined the board in 2016. As a senior consultant at 3 Things SFC, she helps leaders navigate significant changes in their organization. Julie is a lifetime resident of the Twin Cities passionate about closing the achievement gap and ensuring everyone in our community reaches their full potential. She is a graduate of Lawrence University in Appleton, WI and Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, MN.