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Jazz residency program helps keep students miles ahead

When Michele LaVigne’s mother died about two years ago, she gave a certain amount of money to each of her five children to be put toward some educational cause.

It was a fitting gesture by Marion LaVigne, who had taught math to middle school-age children for 49 years in New York. Michele LaVigne knew what she was going to do with her money the day she attended an event honoring jazz musician Richard Davis, where she heard how much he enjoyed being an educator and how a teacher in the Chicago Public Schools had inspired him.

LaVigne, a clinical law professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School who takes jazz piano lessons, said she decided to pursue a jazz residency at Sherman Middle School, hoping it would inspire students.