Treynor Elementary School music teacher wins grant money for innovative program

Posted at 6:57 PM, Oct 12, 2023

TREYNOR, Iowa (KMTV) — Treynor Elementary School music teacher, Michael Stinman was one of only 50 teachers in the country — and the only one in Iowa — to receive a $2,000 grant from Voya Financial for the work he’s doing in his classroom.

His goals extend beyond teaching music in the classroom. Stinman wants to “not only make them lifelong musicians but make them better people through all these experiences and exposures."

In the past, he’s used fundraising projects in the community to fill his classroom with drums, xylophones, and a variety of activities to teach children music skills in ways that are fun. This time, though, he filled out a 30-page grant application for the Voya program.

"So when I see funding like this that continues to build my vision and what I want for our students in here, it just is absolutely breathtaking," he said.

Stinman said the grant money will allow him to add instruments and build a new preschool music program, but it's more about a lot more than music. He can connect music class to other subjects.

"We were talking about one of our games we were doing today in class. There's a connection with math— like, we were talking about rows and columns and they're saying 'Well, we're doing that!' and it's all a group of four and that means its four times four and it's 16. Great!"

Stinman said his music curriculum builds on itself each year.

"So by the time they're in fifth grade they can do these full-on orph arrangements with the xylophones and with drums," he said.

I asked third-grader Taylin how she feels after she leaves Stinman's music class.

“Even when there's energetic stuff, I always feel calm after I come out," she said.

The other students who spoke to 3 News Now, Breclynn, fifth grade, and Casyn, fourth grade, told me Stinmans’ class was fun and they’ve all learned how to read music. Casyn said he knows not all kids have instruments at home, so he likes that kids can play instruments at school.

Next up for Mr. Stinman? He’ll be considered for Voya’s top national grants, where he’ll have a chance to win more funding for his music program.

Teachers interested in applying for a Voya grant can visit

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