HCISD Board of Trustees receives $10K Kennedy Center and NSBA award

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced that HCISD has received the 32nd Kennedy Center and National School Boards Association (NSBA) Award. The award, which includes a $10,000 prize, will be presented virtually at a future HCISD Board of Trustees meeting. Since 1989, this national award has recognized individual school boards for their outstanding support of arts education. The Harlingen district was chosen from nominees around the country for its support of high-quality arts education.

“As the Nation’s Cultural Center and within our national outreach programs, we see first-hand the impact of arts learning.” said, Jordan LaSalle, Vice President of Education at the Kennedy Center. “Every student has a right to an accessible, high-quality arts education and young people are best set up for this when all stakeholders who pave their journey work together to ensure the path is smooth. A school board that is invested in the arts education of their students is invested in the total education of those students, preparing them to be contributing citizens, life-long learners, and innovative problem solvers. We were inspired by the school board of HCISD and their robust commitment to arts education through community, state, and national opportunities. We are pleased to recognize their dedication.”

The Kennedy Center and NSBA award honors the work of the 2019 school board, Eladio Jaimez, Gerry Fleuriet, Dr. Bobby Muniz, Javier De Leon, Dr. Belinda Reininger, Dr. Nolan Perez, and HCISD Superintendent Dr. Alicia Noyola. Arts education continues to be a vital piece of a comprehensive education for all students in Harlingen schools. The board has shown a strong commitment to the arts by allocating funding for the construction of a performing arts center for its students, increasing students’ and community members access to spaces where the arts can be practiced; continued funding and support for students and staff to pursue arts educational opportunities available locally and across the state; an intentional strategic plan that has guided the District to establish 12 academies, giving students a choice to enroll in educational pathways that best fit for them and their passions. Lee Means Fine Arts Academy and the Gutierrez Middle School of Arts and Sciences feature a curriculum developed with a focus on four pathways—dance, music, visual arts, and theater; along with continued funding for fine arts administrators to oversee the arts programs in the District. Additional commitments include ensuring all K -5 students have visual arts classes as part of their education and one general music class per week taught by a certified music specialist. Furthermore, once in sixth grade, students have the opportunity to join band, orchestra, mariachi, or choir.

“Through our vision and strategic plan, we are able to continue providing students with access to innovative resources and opportunities,” Board President Eladio Jaimez said. “We continue to transform the learning experience for our students each day. The HCISD Board of Trustees is proud to support the growth of music education and the performing arts in HCISD and looks forward to what’s to come. We are honored to receive this recognition.”

The district is committed to a variety of arts partnerships throughout the state and community to foster an appreciation of the arts which has included partnering with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to contract music and theater professors for clinics and adjudicate to students; the Harlingen Concert Association, which brings musical talent from across the nation and provides free performances to students; Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival which gives students involved in art, photography, and/or writing the opportunity to take part in contests to promote understanding and appreciation of the wild birds that populate the Rio Grande Valley; and Texas Commission of the Arts, which brings performances of original plays to the students throughout the school year, among additional partnerships.

“Our HCISD Board of Trustees understands the impact that an art education can have on students’ current and future success,” HCISD Superintendent Dr. Alicia Noyola said. “They make frequent, high-impact decisions that allow our school district to offer a world-class education. Over the years they have continuously and wholeheartedly supported music, theater, dance, and visual art which has led to our current success in this area. I am honored to work with such incredible individuals and congratulate them for their recognition.”

The Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District Board of Education (HCISD) intends to use its award to fund more scholarships for students to participate in workshops, training sessions, and summer camps for choir, band, and HCISD’s own Summer-on-Stage program. Scholarships would enable teachers to attend conferences and conventions to share ideas and techniques and materials. Additionally HCISD is working with the Actors’ Equity Association in exploring the establishment of a first-of-its-kind summer stock theater in the public school district and these funds could assist with the start-up costs.

Each year, a national review panel selects the recipient school board from a pool of nominees from across the country. School boards selected for this national honor must demonstrate support for four of the five core disciplines in arts education programs: visual arts, music, theater, dance, and media arts. Instruction and programming must be available for all students throughout the district. The ways in which the school board develops collaborative partnerships with the cultural resources available in the community are also an important consideration in reviewing nominations.

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