SHERMAN OAKS — Millikan Middle School in Sherman Oaks, known for its innovative ways of teaching, is introducing SAGE (Social and Gender Equity) for the academic year 2020-2021.

SAGE is the nation’s first of its kind to incorporate gender studies and social justice themes into all of its academic courses, according to the school website.

This initiative uses music as a way to help students learn while boosting their morale and make them feel connected during online classes.

“They have a voice, and we have to make them aware of that and we have to teach them how to use it,” said Joseph Porter, SAGE Magnet coordinator in an interview with ABC7.

The pandemic turned everything online and schools had to change with the needs of the times.

SAGE partnered with “Guitars in the Classroom” program to make online academic learning fun.

In the beginning it was developed to help students understand the history behind protest songs.

But its effectiveness encouraged the program to use music as a means to teach other subjects and as a great way to stay connected in spite of distant learning; this program also saw an increase in student participation.

Guitars in the Classroom is a non-profit organization started by Jessica Anne Baron and the organization believes that “Every student deserves a well-rounded elementary education including weekly instruction in music taught by a credentialed music teacher.”

Free teacher training is provided to those all working with children and it encourages teachers to use music to make online learning interesting.

“There is a feeling of connection and that’s the magic… it’s the engagement and they’ll sustain attention for 45 minutes online to sing songs about people, places and things,” said Baron.

Canyon News reached out to Baron, but did not hear back before print.