Lori White named Superintendent of the Year by Florida Alliance for Arts Education

Award to be presented next month in Daytona Beach

Superintendent Lori White. Image courtesy Sarasota County Schools
Superintendent Lori White. Image courtesy Sarasota County Schools

The Florida Alliance for Arts Education (FAAE) has named Lori White, superintendent of the Sarasota County Schools, its 2016 Superintendent of the Year, the organization has announced.

White will be honored formally during an awards ceremony at the FAAE Leadership Summit, which will be held June 23-25 at The Shores Resort and Spa in Daytona Beach, a news release notes.

“The organization’s commitment and leadership in arts education makes this award especially meaningful,” White said in the release. “I’m fortunate to lead a school district that gets so much support from local arts and cultural organizations, foundations and individuals that care so deeply about the arts as an integral part of K-12 education. They know that engaging students in the arts helps young people think and act creatively, whatever career path they may pursue.”

“When selecting the Superintendent of the Year, FAAE recognizes that strong leadership from the top is necessary to develop and maintain strong arts education programs in a school district,” the release continues. “White was selected for this prestigious award based upon her tireless efforts to maintain outstanding arts programs in the Sarasota schools as well as the strong relationships she has fostered with community arts organizations,” the release adds.

“Since 1981, FAAE has united educators, artists, community leaders, concerned citizens, corporate partners and arts-education organizations and institutions in pursuit of a common goal: to ensure that all Florida students receive a complete education that includes the arts,” the release explains.

“Sarasota has long been a model for demonstrating student achievement and equitable access to a high-quality arts education,” said Julie Hebert, the alliance’s executive director, in the release.

Each year during its summit, FAAE recognizes outstanding leaders in arts education, the release continues. “It is our hope that educators will see the great things happening around the state and implement similar models in their own districts,” Hebert added in the release.

Angela Hartvigsen, the Sarasota district’s fine arts program specialist, pointed out in the release that in spite of budget shortfalls and recommendations from consultants to cut arts education positions as a result of the impact of the recession, “White staunchly supported the presence of the arts in all of Sarasota’s public schools.”

In large part because of White’s efforts, the release also notes, “Sarasota County was the nation’s sixth community chosen for the Kennedy Center’s Any Given Child Initiative,” which promotes access and equity in arts experiences for all students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Brian Hersh, program director for Any Given Child Sarasota, added in the release, “Mrs. White is an eloquent speaker about the arts and their importance to a child’s whole education. She is also proud to tell you about her days playing the violin at Pine View School.”

White has served as superintendent of Sarasota County Schools since 2008. As she plans to retire in early February 2017, the School Board is engaged in a national search for her replacement.