School of Rock's Stacey Ryan on why they had to 'keep the music going' during the pandemic

'Many of our students rely on it for their mental health'
Stacey Ryan COO of School of Rock
Photo credit Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

During the 2023 She Rocks Awards, Audacy and 98 Rock’s Myki Angeline spoke with Stacey Ryan, the Chief Operating Officer of School of Rock, which is the world's most revolutionary music education program — nbd.

LISTEN NOW: Stacey Ryan discusses the importance of music to mental health

During their conversation Stacey admitted to feeling “honored and confused,” about being honored at this years awards.

“It’s interesting because I found myself battling imposter syndrome which I coach women all the time about how to overcome, and I found myself in that position. So I’m surrounded my incredible people, support, friends, family mentors, that all shook it out of me really quick, but it’s just incredibly humbling.”

Stacey and her School of Rock team lead efforts throughout 15 countries to consistently deliver outstanding technical learning and personal development of 60,000 students in a safe, inclusive, and encouraging environment. Part of making sure her school remains a safe and nurturing environment, Stacey has formed a partnership with the Society of the Prevention of Teen Suicide.

“We are very passionate about the importance of mental health… We work a lot with our students on awareness on knowing that they are important, that there are people who care and are here to listen to them. And we insure that we are always promoting that healthy lifestyle.”

“Mental health is one of the biggest crisis happening right now, and COVID really magnified it significantly. And when we hit COVID, we knew as a organization that ‘we can’t stop this,’" Stacey expressed. Noting they had to “find a way to keep the music going, because many of our students rely on it for their mental health.”

“Almost overnight we went to a fully remote operation, we kept things going, we did parking lot shows instead of venue shows. We did everything we could to keep everything going because we knew how important it was, and the music's role in mental health.”

As the parent of two School of Rock students Magic 106.3's Sherí Taylor can vouch for how much the school, the instructors and the music helped to keep some normalcy for her two kiddos.

Her kids are like night and day but agree that what kept them going are the bonds that they made with fellow students, and being able to keep fostering their love for performance and self-expression, even while the world had gone pear-shaped around them!

Listen to the whole conversation above and check out Stacey’s She Rocks acceptance speech, followed by a performance from an all-female band from School of Rock below.

Listen to Audacy’s I’m Listening Mental Health Mix and more on the free Audacy app

Audacy's I’m Listening initiative aims to encourage those who are dealing with mental health issues to understand they are not alone. If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression or anxiety, know that someone is always there. Additionally, the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 988. Find a full list of additional resources here.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Michael Tullberg/Getty Images