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Press Release - Superintendent Nikolai Vitti to Receive 2017 "Superintendent of the Year" Award From Florida Music Education Association

September 26, 2016

Press Release - Superintendent Nikolai Vitti to Receive 2017 "Superintendent of the Year" Award From Florida Music Education Association
CONTACT: Laureen Ricks  |  904.390.2211
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., SEPT. 26, 2016 – Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti is hitting all the right notes when it comes to investing and strengthening music education in the school district. In recognition of his efforts, the Florida Music Education Association (FMEA) awards committee has named Dr. Nikolai Vitti, the organization’s “Superintendent of the Year.” The honor highlights Dr. Vitti’s commitment to boosting music and arts education, including: investing $20 million in arts programs annually; raising the percentage of students enrolled in arts courses to the highest percentage among Florida’s largest seven districts; increasing weekly instructional time dedicated to music and art; designating a second middle school as a magnet with an arts focus; supporting Instruments for Change, which allows the community to donate instruments to school music programs; and increasing funding and hours for professional development for arts teachers. The recognition – which will be formally presented during an awards ceremony in January – comes just two years after Dr. Vitti was named “Superintendent of the Year” by the Florida Art Education Association. 
“Expanding music and arts programming is certainly one of my proudest accomplishments as superintendent and something I promised the community after listening to their demand to restore the whole child emphasis in the education experience,” said Dr. Vitti. “Most importantly, this reform has a tangible impact on children and the way in which they will grow into reflective and active citizens. I am fortunate that I work with a board that shares my vision for a comprehensive arts education, and what is especially gratifying is that a number of teachers and administrators took the time out of their schedules to nominate me for this award.” 
Dr. Vitti was nominated by April Laymon, music teacher at Beauclerc Elementary School. He received additional recommendations from principals, teachers, parents, district administrators, and nonprofit partners throughout the community. 
“Beginning in 2013, I witnessed Dr. Vitti schedule meetings across the entire Jacksonville area, visit schools and hold community sessions each year to understand the needs of the communities,” said Robin Lang, parent and chair of the district’s Arts Advisory Council. “He is dedicated and willing to listen to parents and address concerns. He is actively engaged in making changes to improve the success of our children and use the arts as one of the avenues.”
Under Dr. Vitti’s leadership, every elementary school within the district now employs at least one full-time music teacher, and every secondary school provides music course work, in addition to course offerings in visual arts, dance and theatre. Instrumental music enrollment in secondary schools has more than doubled from 3,000 instrumental music students in the 2011-2012 school year to over 6,300 instrumental music students in the 2015-2016 school year. Student participants from elementary, middle, and high schools throughout our district have been featured in All-State ensembles at the FMEA conference each year, and many graduating seniors receive music scholarships and awards that recognize the high level of personal achievement and the rigor of district programs. 
“Dr. Vitti has expanded the infrastructure for the visual and performing arts department and provided the funding necessary to meet the needs of music faculty and students throughout the district,” said DCPS Director of Visual and Performing Arts, Jeff Smith. “Fort Caroline Middle School is now a dedicated IB magnet school with an arts focus, and four of our elementary schools have adopted an arts integration focus. He also created the STEAM Cultural Passport program to ensure that students who attend Title I elementary schools would be able to participate in transformational field trip experiences. Last year, over 101,000 PreK-fifth grade students participated in over 1,700 field trips at a cost of $1 million with trips to Jacksonville Symphony performances and many other cultural events.”
More than 3,000 music teachers, administrators and industry professionals are members of FMEA, a not-for-profit, professional association that supports music educators statewide. Many of them will be in attendance at the conference when Dr. Vitti is recognized during an awards ceremony. The conference will held in the Tampa Bay Convention Center on Jan.13, 2017.

About Duval County Public Schools
Duval County Public Schools is the 20th largest school district in the nation, educating more than 128,000 students in over 190 schools. Its mission is to provide educational excellence for every school, in every classroom, for every student, every day. Visit to learn more.