In the four years we have been partnering with Mark Turk (Beyond the Grade), I have been both inspired and impressed with Mark’s passion and commitment to provide quality programming to the students in our afterschool programs. He finds ways to pass on his passion of music to his students and motivate them to put in the work to become better musicians. Participation in Mark’s program has been a positive and rewarding experience in the lives of our students.

-John Shanks – Project Director, ACE Austin

“I like Rock Band (Beyond the Grade program) because it allows me actually to learn something new for once. It gives me a way, besides the Paredes band, to actually put my feelings out in music.  Cause I’m always feeling sad, and playing music makes me happy.  That’s why it’s important to me.”

Student Testimonial – Paredes Middle School

“For three years I had the pleasure of working with Mark Turk as a music instructor. Mark offered a music program 2 days a week through my Afterschool Program at Travis High School. As the program director it is my job to find partners in the community that not only have a passion and a talent to share but who can also work with at-risk youth. I could not have been happier than I was filling this roll for our music class with Mr. Turk. Mark  was often introducing students to an instrument for the first time. For other students it was their first time being given a real actual lesson! Mark taught them to love instruments in a way that has both inspired and encouraged them. The student learned how important it is to work hard, practice and to be creative. Together they booked actual gigs and played shows in downtown Austin, the music capital of the world! Opportunities like this were encouraging and exciting and drove the students into so many new experiences and adventures. In addition to all of the hard work and many afternoons of loading and unloading equipment, Mark also fund-raised for for the students resulting in much needed equipment, cables, mics, and so forth. I cannot say enough good things about the work that Mark did in that community over those few years or about his passion for really exposing children, who may not otherwise have a shot, to instruments and lessons! Not to mention the guy is a pretty amazing artist!!!  Keep up all the amazing work Mr. Turk and good luck to you as you continue to bring music to everyone!”

-Genevieve D. – ACE Afterschool Program Coordinator

“Well I can certainly attest to the fact that (Beyond the Grade) has definitely improved the musical talent of many of our students in the ACE After-school program at Widen Elementary School. Over the past few years students continued wanting to learn more in your beginners guitar classes. Thank you for being such a strong and great supporter of out of school time programs like ours!”

Juan D. – ACE Afterschool Program Coordinator

“Mark and his team ran a teen rock band for an after-school program that I oversaw.  He worked with the students at Travis High previous to my arrival.  Within my first few days on the job, I had several students come by my office asking when Mark was going to start his program.  As soon as the program began, I understood the excitement.  Mark has a gift for encouraging and teaching students, while making them feel like valued friends.  I was impressed with the technical skills that the students gained over the course of the program, and appreciated how much this program bonded students to each other and grew their self-esteems.”

Erin H. – ACE Afterschool Program Coordinator