Select Page

Even before singer Michelle Forman had musical aspirations, the Miami native knew she wanted to help others.

“Since I was a girl I felt I was supposed to do something bigger than me,” the longtime vocalist of Afro-Latin fusion band Suenalo said. “I was always sensitive to people suffering. I always wanted to spread a message of love and unification.”

On Thursday, June 13, Forman will be celebrated for doing just that when the Children’s Trust honors her with the Excellence in Direct Service to Children and Families Award at its 14th-annual Champions for Children event. The award recognizes “selfless and motivated individuals … who have achieved greatness in their service to children and families in our community,” says James R.Haj, president and CEO of the Children’s Trust.

For the last ten years, Forman has worked with Guitars Over Guns, mentoring inner-city students at North Miami and Georgia Jones-Ayers Middle Schools as well as founding Guitars Over Guns’ a cappella ensemble.

“I try to inspire them to be empathetic and responsible. We teach many lessons, all of them music based. It’s beautiful to see the bonds created,” she says. “I had a kid with anger management issues, fighting, getting terrible grades. Now nine years later, she’s graduating magna cum laude.”

Forman says she can relate to kids who have trouble following the rules. “I was a rebellious teenager. Teachers would kick me out of class. Counseling didn’t work. But one person did get through to me. That mentor, Dr. Randy Addar, was the D.A.R.E. [Drug Abuse Resistance Education] counselor at Sunset Senior High. His mentorship inspired me to pay it forward.”

Forman also credits the many musical mentors she met in her 20s for her being an effective agent of change with Guitars Over Guns. “Nathan Jay had this house we called Monkey Village. All these musicians in Miami hung out there. That was my school. I learned everything from a variety of musicians.” It was at Monkey Village that Forman met many of the members of Suenalo, the band she has been an on/off part of for the better part of the last 17 years. Through that musical collective, she met bandmate Chad Bernstein, who founded Guitars Over Guns in 2008, a nonprofit mentorship program pairing music professionals with underprivileged kids.

Forman felt a passion for the cause and made herself available to her students 24/7. “My forte is connecting,” she says, emphasizing that she never had a formal music education. “Everything I know about music was self-taught or I learned from friends. I teach music as an outlet for all the negative things the students have seen in their short lives. It’s social and emotional learning through music and arts education.”

Though the work with the kids is reward enough for Forman, she said news of her receiving the Excellence in Direct Service to Children and Families Award came at just the right time.

“I had no idea I was nominated. You go through phases you’re not sure if you’re making a difference or on the right path with the children. Two days after feeling that way, a letter comes in the mail saying I won. I was like, OK, universe. I hear you.”

From Miami New Times

Hively Acts as Enforcer and Liaison Between Students and Cops

Hively Acts as Enforcer and Liaison Between Students and Cops

Marietta City Schools school resource officer Dianna Hively talks to Marietta Middle School secretary Brandi Wittekind in the school office Thursday as seventh-grader Riley Allen, seeking help with a damaged backpack, stands at the counter. Hively stepped in as the…

Osage Student Wins State D.A.R.E. Essay Contest

Osage Student Wins State D.A.R.E. Essay Contest

A school-wide celebration was held last week in honor of Osage Middle School student Ashley Muhs, who won the 2018-19 state D.A.R.E. essay contest. Muhs, who is a seventh-grader this fall, wasn’t able to attend the state D.A.R.E. convention over the summer to read her winning essay aloud…

Crossman:  D.A.R.E. is making progress; changing with the times

Crossman: D.A.R.E. is making progress; changing with the times

Len Crossman believes it’s never too early to teach a child to make healthy choices, and it’s part of his job as Massachusetts D.A.R.E. coordinator to provide the tools to do so. Crossman, who works part-time for the Northfield Police Department and teaches criminal justice at Franklin Pierce University took over the position in January…

Thank You Letter from St. Mark School

Thank You Letter from St. Mark School

“Thank you for all you do to promote D.A.R.E. program implementation in the communities of America. During the 2018/2019 school year, we were excited to provide the D.A.R.E. Program for the first time to our 58th and 6th graders. Officer James Saunders from Precinct…”

Rexburg Wins National Contest and Gifted New Car for D.A.R.E.

Rexburg Wins National Contest and Gifted New Car for D.A.R.E.

The Rexburg and Madison County D.A.R.E. program has a new vehicle thanks to local fourth graders and Rexburg’s water conservation efforts. Wyland Foundation, a non-profit foundation dedicated to clean water and oceans, donated a new Toyota Highlander Hybrid to the D.A.R.E. program…

Green Awarded D.A.R.E. Officer of the Year

Green Awarded D.A.R.E. Officer of the Year

Stanly County resident Todd Green was awarded D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Officer of the Year at the North Carolina D.A.R.E conference in Beaufort.Green, who has been a D.A.R.E. officer since 2000, also serves on the North Carolina D.A.R.E. board as...

Inspiring Talks Fuel D.A.R.E. Leadership Campers

Inspiring Talks Fuel D.A.R.E. Leadership Campers

This past weekend, 88 students from the five high schools in Timmins attended the third-annual D.A.R.E. Leadership Camp at Camp Bickell. Valerie Demers, left, and Annabelle Breton, both Grade 12 École secondaire catholique Thériault students, were among the counsellors…

Park Ridge D.A.R.E. Students Help Officers with Memorial Day Float

Park Ridge D.A.R.E. Students Help Officers with Memorial Day Float

On Monday, May 27th, a bunch of D.A.R.E. students helped D.A.R.E. Officers Greg Santangelo and Kyle Dutcher during the Memorial Day Parade. Brett Unger from Creative Pavers in Park Ridge donated his time and resources with painting, decorating, and pulling the...

Copyright 2019 D.A.R.E. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2019 D.A.R.E. All Rights Reserved.