Meridian Star

October 10, 2012

MSU Riley Center, Hodges recognized for supporting arts in education

By Ida Brown /
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     MSU Riley Center for Education and Performing Arts and Lauderdale County School District Superintendent Randy Hodges are two of four recipients of awards recently presented by the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education.

    The Riley Center received the 2012 Distinguished Community Arts Agency/Cultural Institution Program Award and Hodges the 2012 Outstanding Administrator of the Year Award for exemplary commitment and service to arts in education. The honorees were recognized during Tuesday's EMBDC Business Before Hours.

    "This is an annual award given by the MAAE. We look all over the state for recipients who meet specific criteria for different categories," said Dr. Penny Wallin, MAAE executive director.

    Teachers, administrators and program/institution leaders may nominate themselves or their own programs, or others may nominate them. Each award category requires a completed nomination form, a narrative that answers several questions, and supporting documents. An awards panel including representatives from across the state review and evaluate all nominations submitted. The programs must be ongoing, with at least a five-year history.

    The Riley Center was recognized for its deliverance of high quality performing arts programming for students, as well as its commitment to provide teacher training and workshops to help schools incorporate arts into the classroom.

    "The committee looks for collaborations with other parts of the community, as well as schools. Also, how that collaboration takes place that is being a resource for schools, possibly highlighting different arts," Wallin said. "The MSU Riley Center is an exemplar in all those areas."

    MSU Riley Center Education Director Dr. Charlotte Tabereaux is especially pleased with the honor.

    "This is the Riley Center's sixth year of being open, so it was the first time we could be nominated," Tabereaux said "The Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, the Ohr O'Keefe Museum in Biloxi and several other major organizations have won this award in the past, so it's a real thrill for us to have received it this year."

    In choosing Outstanding Administrator of the Year, the panel considers the level of support to arts education programs given by an education leader. Tabereaux said she nominated Hodges because of his dedication to the county's four high schools combined presentation of a Broadway musical for the last five years.

    "Randy saw first hand how the arts help kids," she said. "For him to not have any drama teachers in his high schools and to do this each year, that's huge. There aren't many superintendents in this state who are that supportive of the arts. We're really lucky to have someone like him who is so supportive of what we're trying to do – to expose all children to the arts."

    MAAE board panelists were especially impressed with the "depth and breadth" of Hodges' work across schools in the Lauderdale County School District.

    "Mr. Hodges stands out among superintendents in the state for endorsing and believing in the power of the arts in schools," Wallin said.

    Other 2012 Arts Education Awards recipients were Shawn Morgan and Malaika Quarterman, both of Power APAC in Jackson, for Thad Cochran Distinguished Arts Educator awards in music and theatre, respectively.