2017 award winners

        Apply      Categories       Sponsorship Opportunities       2017 Winners      Past Winners


Congratulations to our 2017 ASN Award Winners!


LaVilla School of the Arts in Jacksonville, Florida has been honored with the Arts Innovation Award for taking artistic risks in using the arts in teaching academic, and for making a positive difference in the lives of students and the community.

La Villa is a dedicated arts magnet middle school that serves students in grades 6-8. The school’s mission is to prepare students to meet the high quality academic and pre-professional arts curricula at the high school level; to nurture knowledgeable life-long supporters of the arts; and to provide in-school and out-of-school opportunities that enhance creativity, aesthetic and critical thinking skills, self-discipline, leadership, teamwork, and an appreciation for cultural diversity.

Established in 2000 with the idea to provide low socio-economic Jacksonville students with specialized training in vocal, band, orchestra, guitar, piano, drama, technical theatre, dance, visual arts, and creative writing. Arts and academic teachers work closely together to ensure all students receive a high quality education while strengthening community partnerships, and creating true mentoring programs for both students and teachers. http://dcps.duvalschools.org/lavilla




K.O. Knudson Middle School Academy of Creative Arts and Technology in Las Vegas, Nevada has received the Arts Integration Award for its outstanding leadership in bringing arts integration strategies into the curriculum. Knudson was the first middle school in the Clark County School District to found its magnet programs on the creative and performing arts. Situated in a low-socioeconomic area, Knudson adopted the “school-within-a-school” magnet model in 1997 to promote equity and diversity. While the arts served as the premise for the school’s magnet programs, arts integration has served as the school’s foundation for academic success for all students, both the magnet and neighborhood populations. Through the integration of the arts, K. O. Knudson fosters creative and critical thinking to help students gain the requisite knowledge and skills they need as they move forward in the 21st Century. Knudson has been recognized as a School of Excellence and of Distinction by Magnet Schools of America for five consecutive years. The school’s mariachi program has shined at national competitions, such as the Mariachi Spectacular, where students earned third place. Choir students have performed with Tim McGraw, and Ballet Folklorico has taken the world stage at Epcot. K. O. Knudson is a learning environment in which the “real-world” is seen and experienced most readily through the arts.  www.knudsonms.org 

“The K. O. Knudson Middle School Academy of the Creative Arts and Technology is honored and humbled to receive the Arts Schools Network Arts Integration Award. We are extremely proud of our performing arts programs, which include band, dance, folklorico, mariachi, orchestra, theatre, vocal, and visual arts. However, we strive daily to ensure the arts, in all forms, are integrated throughout our curricula as to support student learning, and we are proud to be recognized for these efforts.”  - Lezlie Koepp, Principal



smARTS in Idyllwild, California receives the Community Partnership Award for its unique efforts in utilizing the arts and education to foster artistic and educational understanding and community enhancement. smARTS is a 15-year-old all-volunteer, community grant-funded art instruction program founded by an artist Mom, who wanted the children of Idyllwild to have art instruction in school after California cuts to arts education. Classes are taught by volunteer professional artists from the community in the areas of visual arts, theatre, music, song writing, movement, and creative writing at Idyllwild School, grades K-8. The smARTS Committee individually/collectively administers various smARTS programs. Volunteer classroom helpers from the community support each artist-taught class. smARTS delivers 275 classes per school year at Idyllwild School, a K-8 Title 1 California Distinguished School. In addition, faculty and students from nearby Idyllwild Arts Academy teach regular classes. Guest artist programming is shared between Idyllwild Arts Academy and the School. In addition, students from IAA gain teaching experience by teaching in the elementary classroom. smARTS has served to join all independent entities in Idyllwild: the Idyllwild Community Fund, the Art Alliance of Idyllwild, the Associates of Idyllwild Arts, and the Idyllwild Arts Foundation, which operates the Academy, partnering with them all to enrich and develop this program and each other. https://m.facebook.com/idyllwildsmarts/ 

“smARTS has grown exponentially over the last several years in the number of art classes and experiences in all disciplines that it provides Idyllwild School students. smARTS has been greatly assisted by its increased partnership with the Idyllwild Arts Academy, which provides smARTS-sponsored special performances, faculty workshops, and student assistance with smARTS classes for Idyllwild School kids. We are grateful to IAA for their support. It is wonderful to have all of our collective efforts recognized and we appreciate Idyllwild Arts Academy for nominating smARTS for this award.” - Christine Hunt, smARTS Committee.




Josue Gonzalez, Director of El Sistema at Conservatory Lab Charter School in Boston, Massachusetts has earned the Emerging Leader Award, which honors excellence and achievement among rising arts schools administrators and their educational innovation practices or programs.

In his two years as sole director of the El Sistema program, Josue has fostered strong bonds between Conservatory Lab and the community. Due to Josue, relationships flourish with prominent Boston-based musical organizations such as the Landmarks Orchestra and the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra. He has also struck up new connections between Conservatory Lab and the Boston Public Library, which has invited Josue’s school to perform at their main and local branches several times this year. Within Conservatory Lab School, Josue has carefully shaped the El Sistema program to serve students more effectively. The school orchestras are structured to optimize practice time, better serve students with special needs, and improve student-teacher ratios in the classroom. Josue’s efforts to improve the school orchestras and enhance students’ musical learning has been acknowledged publicly at the Massachusetts State House, where his school performed a winter concert, and by the Mayor of Boston, who visited the school at the beginning of the year.

Josue Gonzalez started his musical studies at the age of four, while he was living in Puerto Rico. Growing up, he was a member of the Puerto Rico Philharmonic and studied at the Interlochen Arts Academy. He went on to attend the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he earned a BM in performance and an MM in Suzuki Pedagogy. He joined Conservatory Lab Charter School in 2011. https://www.conservatorylab.org/



Louisa Castrodale, Arts Coordinator of Palm Springs Unified School District in California has also been recognized with the Emerging Leader Award. She is a poet, painter, and educator who, after 15 years in the classroom, began her work in the arts. Entering the field with a fierce passion for the arts, she soon discovered the challenge of working with students in a district that is 84% below the poverty line. She has developed programs to help overcome obstacles for students, including Art Within Reach in alternative education, Musical Theatre University for pre-professional performing arts students, and Lady Lead for middle school girls. Her awards include the Excellence in Music by the Steinway Society, Model of Academic Excellence in Riverside County, and the ACSA Administrator of the Year for Region 19 in Southern California. She has presented at Title One conference in Burlingame, California, the CABE conference in San Francisco, the NAEA conference in New Orleans, the Arts Schools Network conference in Dallas, and as an Innovative District at the Model Schools conference in Nashville, Tennessee. Louisa is on the boards of the Children’s Discovery Museum, Red Hot Ballroom, and serves on the Policy Committee for the McCallum Theater Institute. Her passion, vision, and persistence have helped make Palm Springs Unified School District’s arts programs a model locally and beyond. http://www.psusdarts.org/

“This honor…motivates me to keep pushing forward in arts leadership, to innovate and champion the arts for young people. I am gratified that our unique programs, like Musical Theatre University, Lady Lead, and DJ Camp, have been recognized this year by ASN.” – Louisa Castrodale 




Valerie B. Morris, Dean of the College of Charleston, School of the Arts, is the recipient of the Higher Education Award, which recognizes postsecondary institutions or arts partnership programs in higher education for their continuous support of the sustainability of quality arts education in K-12 schools.

Valerie B. Morris has been the Dean of the College of Charleston School of the Arts since the fall of 1998. As Dean, she is the chief administrative officer of one of the College’s six undergraduate schools. Dean Morris oversees the Departments of Art and Architectural History, Music, Studio Art, and Theatre and Dance, plus programs in Arts Management, Historic Preservation and Community Planning, and Computing in the Arts (in partnership with the School of Science and Math). Also under her umbrella are the graduate program of Historic Preservation in conjunction with Clemson University; the Master of Arts in Teaching in Choral Music and the Master of Arts in Teaching in Theatre, both in conjunction with the School of Education, Health and Human Performance; and the Arts Management concentration in the Master of Public Administration program. She is responsible for the production of approximately 200 events per year, and she provides leadership in cultural education, programming and scholarship for the School and the community. http://sota.cofc.edu/

“I am very honored to accept this award from Arts Schools Network. The work that the members of ASN do to encourage young people to explore their creative talents in their early years (K through 12) is impressive, and crucially important. At the College of Charleston, we are eager to both train the creative arts teachers of the future, and to welcome young artists from your programs who want to explore further their creative sparks, and possibly direct their futures towards professional careers in the arts.” – Valerie Morris

Prior to joining the College of Charleston, Dean Morris was the Chair of the Department of Performing Arts at American University in Washington, D.C., where she was the founding director of that institution’s Arts Management Program. Dean Morris received her M.A. in Speech (Theatre Administration emphasis) from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and her B.A. in Speech Arts from American University. Her publications include The Future of the Arts: Public Policy and Arts Research, edited with David B. Pankratz and The Arts in a New Millennium: Research and the Arts Sector, also edited with Pankratz, as well as numerous articles in professional journals. Dean Morris was the Executive Editor of the Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society from 1982-1988 and 1990-2009.As an organizer, session chair, panelist, or presenter, Dean Morris has participated in national and international conferences related to the arts and arts management. She also has served as an American Cultural Specialist for the USIA Arts America Program in Santiago, Chile; Kiev, Ukraine; and Montevideo, Uruguay.



Krysta Rodriguez is recognized by the Outstanding Arts School Alumna Achievement Award for her commitment to excellence and outstanding accomplishment in the areas of citizenship, arts, and academics. An alumna of Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA), Krysta Rodriguez is an accomplished Broadway and television actress who rose to Broadway fame with her leading role as Wednesday Adams in the original casting of The Addams Family. Other Broadway credits include A Chorus Line, In the Heights, First Date, and the Deaf West Theatre production of Spring Awakening, at the Wallis Annenberg Center in Los Angeles. The production moved to Broadway and garnered three Tony Award nominations, including Best Revival of a Musical. She is a regular on television, notably in season two of the NBC series Smash, as well as in Quantico and Chasing Life. Ms. Rodriguez graduated from OCSA’s Musical Theater Conservatory in 2002.

“I am humbled to receive ASN’s Outstanding Arts School Alumni Achievement Award. As an alumna of Orange County School of the Arts, I am grateful to my alma mater for preparing me for the industry, and allowing me the opportunity to mentor the next generation of artists.” —Krysta Rodriguez



David A. Flatley, Arts Education Consultant, has received the Research Initiative Award for his research in issues that are important to ASN schools. Flatley has over 20 years of experience in developing and implementing educational and intercultural initiatives to improve teacher practice and student achievement and affect whole-school change. His work has supported both national and international groups, including the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Educational Authority as they worked to replicate the arts integration model developed by Flatley and his team through the Chicago Teachers’ Center in the 1990s. He was instrumental in advancing arts integration in the city through his work with the Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE) and the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Prior to delving into arts education, he worked in development and management with the Cincinnati Ballet, the Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, and Pegasus Players Theatre in Chicago. He has an MA in arts administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a BS in business administration from the University of Illinois-Champaign. Flatley received his practitioner’s certification in intercultural communications through the Intercultural Communications Institute in Portland, Oregon in 2001. He currently serves on the Americans for the Arts’ Arts Education Council, the Arts Schools Network Board, and the CAPE Advisory Board. He is a jazz pianist and writer. He learned French while living in Brussels, Belgium for nearly four years, where he taught English, directed theatre, and played piano for the three American Embassies.



Dr. Susan Simpson Hull, Superintendent at Grand Prairie ISD , is recognized with ASN’s Superintendent Award, which pays tribute to an outstanding arts education administrator serving as a superintendent or the top leader of a local school system, who supports inclusion of a sequential arts-based curriculum.

Dr. Hull has been a Texas educator for 37 years serving as a teacher, coach, principal, and superintendent. She is in her tenth year as the superintendent of the Grand Prairie ISD, an urban/suburban district with over 29,000 students. A Texas Superintendent for more than two decades, Hull has served in five school districts, ranging from small rural to her current district. She was selected the 2005 Texas Superintendent of the Year by the Texas Association of School Boards and the Texas Association of School Administrators. In 2014 and 2015, she received a Gubernatorial Appointment to the State Board of Educator Certification.

Dr. Hull received her bachelor of Science and Master of Education degrees from East Texas State University in 1980 and 1989 respectively, and her superintendent certification from the University of Texas at Tyler in 1993. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Administration from Texas A&M University in 2003. Under Dr. Hull’s leadership the Fine Arts in GPISD has tripled its programming over 10 years. GPISD has opened three fine arts academies (two elementary and one 6-12) and one STEAM Academy PK- 5. At a time when school systems have been reducing fine arts programming, Grand Prairie ISD has added dance strands, mariachi, radio/TV/film, technical theatre, ballet folklorico and much more. The district also offers elementary arts and music and instrumental music, and provides funding for students to experience the arts in a wide variety of ways. http://www.gpisd.org/



Marta Ocampo, Mariachi Director at Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy in Texas, has been named ASN’s Teacher of the Year for her exemplary commitment, abilities, and achievements.

Many of the schools in which Marta Ocampo taught were low-performing schools, where she knew the need for structure and love was high. She delivered both. She was Teacher of the Year in three of her schools, including her current school, GPFAA, a Title I school with students from all backgrounds. Under her direction, the mariachi program has grown in both skill and achievement. Marta Ocampo received her bachelor’s degree from The University of North Texas and her master’s degree in music from Southern Methodist University. Her music teaching career has spanned 32 years. These years include being the head music director at Reed MS for five years, assistant high school director at Sam Houston High School, head high school director at Polytechnic High School, and her current position as head director of the Mariachi strand at Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Marta created the foundation for a successful Mariachi program at The Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy and over the past four years, she has won several competitions as she continues to develop the mariachi program as one of the best in the state as well as the country. www.gpisd.org/fineart.



Kyle Wedberg, President and Chief Executive Officer of New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), has been honored with the Jeffrey Lawrence Award for his uncompromising commitment to excellence in arts education and arts training. Named in honor of the long-time head of the Professional Children’s School in New York, this is the most coveted award presented by ASN to an arts administrator.

Kyle began his career as a City Year AmeriCorps volunteer in Boston, MA. After graduate school, he was a Senior Budget Analyst for the Office of Budget and Management for the City of Chicago, then was recruited to the School District of Philadelphia where he served as Deputy Chief Financial Officer. Kyle took a leadership role at the Recovery School District in Louisiana, where he served as Chief Administrative Officer. While working at the RSD, Kyle visited and was inspired by NOCCA, the performing and visual arts high school for the State of Louisiana, where he is now in his eighth year as President and Chief Executive Officer.

Kyle embodies the legacy of Jeffrey Lawrence. He brings an array of experiences in the arts along with a host of astounding achievements at NOCCA and for the City of New Orleans. His leadership and Civic Affiliations include: Coro Fellowship- St. Louis, MO. Class of 1998, New Orleans Regional Leadership Class of 2010, Leadership Louisiana Class of 2012, Norman C. Francis Leadership Institute Class of 2015, Arts Schools Network National Board, ASI Federal Credit Union Board, City Year New Orleans Advisory Board, GNO Inc. NextGen Council, New Orleans City Planning Commission, Chairman; New Orleans Public Belt Commission, New Orleans Regional Leadership (NORLI) Board, Urban League of Greater New Orleans, and the Bywater Neighborhood Association Board (past member). Included among his recognitions are: Outstanding Alumni (2008) and the Gambit 40 under 40 (2012).

In his spare time, Kyle is deeply committed to helping lead and support the civic work of the city, region, and state. He has performed artistically as Heck Tate in the NOCCA Stage Company production of To Kill a Mockingbird and as the Narrator for the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra’s production of Peter and the Wolf. He has a BA from St. Olaf College and a MPA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.