WEYMOUTH — Weymouth Public Schools is pleased to announce that Superintendent Jennifer Curtis-Whipple has been selected as the first-ever recipient of the Massachusetts Music Educators Association’s School Administrator Award.
The MMEA awards committee unanimously selected Curtis-Whipple for the award at their meeting Saturday, Jan. 11. The award will be presented to Curtis-Whipple on Friday, March 6 during the 2020 MMEA all-state conference at the Boston Seaport Hotel.
Curtis-Whipple, who has served as Superintendent of the Weymouth Public Schools since July 2016, was nominated for the award by Assistant Curriculum Director for Fine and Performing Arts Lauren Saracino.
In her nomination letter, Saracino outlined the “tremendous, unprecedented growth” the Fine and Performing Arts Department has seen during Curtis-Whipple’s tenure, despite cuts and budget constraints the department has experienced over the past decade.
“Our music program took a hard hit, and participation in performing ensembles at the middle and high school levels in particular had not recovered by the time Dr. Whipple came to the helm,” Saracino said. “Going so far as to personally purchase class sets of auxiliary percussion instruments out of her own pocket, Dr. Whipple’s dedication to turning the tides for the fine arts has proven highly effective.”
Since becoming superintendent, Weymouth’s Fine and Performing Arts Department has gained three full-time music educator positions, two full-time visual arts educator positions, one full-time theater arts educator position and a Fine and Performing Arts Assistant Curriculum Director.
The district’s music staff has grown from nine to 13 people, and the middle school instrumental program has grown from roughly 50 participating students to 350.
“Without the continued support and advocacy of Dr. Whipple with stakeholders and within the community, such extraordinary gains in staffing and enrollment would never have been achieved,” Saracino said.
Some of the performing arts initiatives Curtis-Whipple has spearheaded during her tenure include:
- Creating opportunities for music education to be brought to preschoolers in the early childhood center
- Rolling out general music classes to all kindergartners in the district starting next year
- A project with the Massachusetts School Building Association for a new middle school to be constructed, which will include a state-of-the-art performing arts center, black box theater, fabrication shop, media center, three art classrooms, three music classrooms and more.
“In the time that I have worked with the Weymouth Public Schools, I have seen an unprecedented transformation in the fine and performing arts under Dr. Whipple’s tenure,” said Brendan Cawley, a theater arts educator at the Abigail Adams Middle School. “Our students are hungry for performance opportunities, and while there can be red tape or difficulty in getting approval or funding, Dr. Whipple has proven time and again that she will do anything she can to make sure our students can experience all that the performing arts have to offer.”
A performing artist and musician herself, who is an alumnus of the Weymouth Public Schools, Curtis-Whipple often speaks about her own positive experiences going through the district’s arts program. This included several roles in school plays and musicals.
She also joins music department staff on stage to sing before hundreds of members of the school community as part of the district’s annual performing arts festival.
“It is a terrific honor to be selected as the first recipient of the MMEA School Administrator Award,” Curtis-Whipple said. “We are blessed to have highly dedicated Fine and Performing Arts educators in the district, as well as so many talented students who excel in a variety of disciplines, and I look forward to seeing our arts programs continue to grow in the years to come.”