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July 22, 2009: Commission recognizes local art instructors

On Tuesday, July 21, City Commissioners recognized the arts teachers from J.P. Taravella High School for their outstanding commitment to arts education. Their efforts helped the school earn the Florida Alliance for Arts Education’s Arts Achieve! award.

Commissioners recognized the following teachers from Taravella during the meeting:
- Susan Anderson, Visual Arts Department Chairwoman
- Ann Langer, visual arts
- Donna Haynes, visual arts
- Robert Gertzman, visual arts
- Lori Sessions, drama
- Amy Williams, dance
- Neil Jenkins, music
- Cheldon Williams, music
- Kathy LaRosa, music
- Shawn Cerra, principal

“This is a culmination of an outstanding year for our school,” Cerra said, noting that the school’s band played earlier in the year at President Obama’s inauguration.

Arts Achieve! is a statewide program that recognizes exemplary school-based arts programs to serve as models for other schools. Cerra said this recognition makes Taravella one of the top five fine arts non-magnet schools in the state. More information on this program can be found at

“Your school has come a long way in its arts success, and to represent our City that way that you have, all the which ways, is fantastic” Mayor Scott Brook said. “I want to thank you all.”

Commissioners also recognized Anderson for being named the 2009 Broward County Arts Teacher of the Year. A teacher for 18 years, Anderson has a bachelor of fine arts in education/ceramics from Florida Atlantic University and teaches classes at both the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton Museum of Art.  

“We want to honor you for what you’ve done for the students at Taravella high school,” Commissioner Roy Gold said. “Taravella High is a wonderful school, and you are a wonderful teacher.”

As the recipient of this honor, Anderson also receives a cash stipend, scholarship to Nova Southeastern University, a Tiffany crystal apple, an inscribed brick on Riverwalk, and more gifts from cultural organizations and businesses.

“To be an arts teacher of the year, it’s a team effort, too, with support from everyone around you,” Anderson said. “Thank you; I’m humbled.”


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