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Leon County Schools principal receives Opening Nights At Florida State University Arts Advocate Award

Christopher Small, principal of Raa Middle School
Christopher Small, principal of Raa Middle School

Opening Nights at Florida State University has selected Christopher Small, principal at Augusta Raa Middle School, as its 2020 Arts Advocate Award recipient.

Opening Nights announced Small as the winner of the Arts Advocate Award on May 7 to align with National Teacher Appreciation Week, recognizing the outstanding partnership he has fostered with Opening Nights and Florida State University.

“We are proud of the work that Dr. Small has accomplished at Raa Middle School, igniting the passion for arts and music in his students,” Superintendent Rocky Hanna said. “Opening Nights has worked with our schools for years, and they have selected a well-deserving individual to be recognized as the Arts Advocate of the Year.”

Small has integrated arts partnerships to enhance student curriculum at Raa and created the “Arts for Life Scholarship Fund.” His efforts have enabled 70 percent of Raa students to participate in at least one school music program. Raa Middle School is an arts magnet school in Leon County.

“Dr. Small is most deserving of the 2020 Arts Advocate Award because of his exemplary leadership and dedication to arts education and his students,” said Michael Blachly, director of Opening Nights at Florida State University. “Through innovative partnerships with FSU’s College of Fine Arts, College of Music and Opening Nights, Dr. Small is providing invaluable mentoring opportunities for his students.”

Small has cultivated a diverse array of community partnerships that include nine local arts organizations to provide new opportunities and experiences for his students.

“I am honored to be selected as this year’s honoree and look forward to continuing to support and advocate for creating well-rounded students who can bring about leadership and change to the world around us,” Small said. “I am a product of arts advocates, and I am honored to continue to promote such a legacy within our community.”

The Arts for Life Scholarship Fund recognizes the dedication and growth of a student who has participated in the school’s magnet program for three years. The financial contributions from the fund allow the selected student to invest in the cultivation of their specific arts area of interest as they transition to high school.

“This scholarship fund was based upon my belief that all of our students are capable of being successful given the right set of expectations, resources and support systems that encourage their artistic, personal and social development,” Small said. “The arts serve as a foundational component for making connections between a vast range of topics and concepts. As we collectively advocate for the continued support of the arts, we simultaneously give permission to students to value creativity and innovation.”

The Arts Advocate Award presented by Opening Nights at Florida State University annually recognizes a professional educator who demonstrates exemplary work with the arts by leveraging local arts resources.