2015 FAAE Leadership Award Recipients

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The Florida Alliance for Arts Education recognizes leaders who work in various capacities to ensure that arts education is available in all Florida schools and communities and that arts education is of the highest quality.  Leadership in the areas of education, administration, and community are recognized.

School Board:  Orange County Public Schools
The Orange County School Board ensures that all students in Orange County Public Schools will have access to high quality arts education, including equitable access for students across all socioeconomic classifications.  Even during a challenging economy, this School Board maintained its commitment to arts education by strenuously campaigning for a one-mill increase on property taxes.  This special tax, specifically earmarked to protect arts programs, was overwhelmingly passed by voters in 2010 and again in 2014.   During the past 6 years, OCPS has increased the number of arts educators annually and now boasts over 600 arts educators.   Under the guidance and support of the School board, 66.9% of OCPS students, over 130,000,  are now enrolled in visual and performing arts courses.  For over 20 years, the school board has supported a program where every 2nd grader attends the Ballet and every 3rd, 4th, and 5th grader attends a concert with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.  In addition, all schools in Orange County have access to the Journeys Into Arts and Culture program which provides transportation and entrance fees to arts and cultural institutions throughout the county.   As a result of their leadership, OCPS was named a Partner in Education with the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  Two Orange County schools, Howard Middle School Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts  and Lake Nona Middle School, have recently been recognized by FAAE and the Florida Department of Education as Florida Arts Model Schools.  Individually and collectively, the members of the Orange County School Board have demonstrated an unwavering and highly successful commitment to providing students with the social, emotional, and academic benefits of high quality arts education. 

School Superintendent:  Melba Luciano, The School District of Osceola County
Since becoming Superintendent, Melba Luciano has been a strong supporter of arts education and has overseen the addition of 79 new arts programs within this 45 school district!  With her leadership, the District developed and expanded a pre-kindergarten violin program, now offered at four school sites.  For the past two years, the District has provided all 5th grade students with the opportunity to hear live orchestral music performed by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.  Partnerships with the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, the Mennello Museum of Art, and others have expanded student opportunities in the arts.  The innovative stART program, now in its sixth year, is an exemplary summer collaboration between the Osceola District and Juilliard trained teaching artists. Osceola County has been a destination for multiple statewide arts programs, such as the FAAE Careers Workshops for Middle and High School students. Osceola County arts programs have received statewide and national recognition.  With Mrs. Luciano’s visionary leadership, two Osceola schools, Osceola School of the Arts and Poinciana Academy for Fine Arts,  have been recognized as Florida Arts Model Schools.

Community Leader for the Arts and Arts Education – Bryce West, Orlando

Bryce West is a community builder.  Since arriving in Orlando in 2003, he has been actively involved in the arts community, sharing his passion, expertise, and philanthropy.  He serves on the Boards of Directors of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, United Arts of Central Florida, Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra Plaza LIVE, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, Zebra Coalition, and more.  His visionary approach to collaboration has led to the development and implementation of multiple opportunities in education and the arts across a broad spectrum of the Central Florida community.  West’s commitment to the arts and wellness resulted in exemplary collaborations between the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and Orlando Health to provide programs that harness the power of the arts in promoting wellness.  He has joined forces with A Gift for Teaching to provide on-site access to school supplies for students at the Howard Middle School Academy for the Visual and performing Arts.  Bryce West cares and translates his caring into action, changing lives through the arts.

Doris Leeper Award for Teaching Artist Leadership – Cathy Berse, New Smyrna Beach
Cathy Berse has served as a teaching artist and community volunteer at the Atlantic Center for the Arts for over 28 years. She got her start there in coordinating the children’s art activity area at the IMAGES Festival of the Arts in New Smyrna Beach.  In the early 1990’s and for many years thereafter, Berse was an active volunteer in the youth summer art program, Camp Create.  She expanded her efforts by working with the then Volusia Very Special Arts Festival to support interactivity and hands-on art-making for special needs students throughout Volusia County.  Her involvement with outdoor public mural projects led to the Atlantic Center for the Arts Art Scene program of underserved youth painting public murals throughout the community. In partnership with the Atlantic Center and Volusia County Schools, Berse developed and continues Exploration into the World of Art, an outreach program serving all 200 students at New Smyrna Beach Middle School.  The program is a highlight of the year for the students and provides reinvigoration to the entire school, parents and community.  It is rare that you meet an outstanding artist who has provided nearly three decades of volunteer service to foster the creativity of so many young minds in a community.

Arts Education Professional Leadership Award - Pablo Remonsellez, Brevard County

Pablo Remonsellez, born and raised in Santiago, Chile, holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications and Graphic Design from Mayor University of Santiago. Remonsellez gained extensive training in Visual Arts and education by working as a Teaching Assistant at his alma mater and later as a Graphic Designer and Education Coordinator at the National Metropolitan Zoo.  After moving to the United States in 2003, Mr. Remonsellez worked as an Elementary and Middle school Visual Arts teacher in Melbourne.  Since 2007, Remonsellez has served as the Education and Community Arts manager with the Brevard Cultural Alliance.  He has successfully increased the outreach programs of the Alliance through his exemplary work with local teaching artists in bringing expanded arts experiences to schools and other community settings. His outstanding work in marketing, communication, graphic and web design services for BCA has brought positive attention to the arts and arts education in his community.  As BCA's liaison to Brevard Public Schools and Florida Alliance for Art Education, Remonsellez  provides structure for strong collaborations that benefit the community and the schools. 


Christie Bassett - 2015 Florida Teacher of the Year
Christie Bassett teaches K-5 visual art at Highland Grove Elementary in Polk County.  Christie believes that a teacher is a fiber in the overall fabric of a school - a virtual golden thread that connects a student to their community, school, fellow students and the learning opportunities surrounding them. Christie’s dynamic message will showcase the value arts programs and educators bring to schools.