May 25, 2019  

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Seven Outstanding Arts Educators to Receive 2018 AIM Awards

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The Arts Institute of Mississippi (AIM) at The University of Southern Mississippi, has announced recipients for the 2018 AIM Awards, established to salute and honor the achievements of outstanding high school level arts teachers and organizations throughout the state of Mississippi.

“The 2018 AIM Award recipients are making an impact through exemplary achievements in arts education throughout our state,” said Dr. Jay Dean, executive director of AIM. “Their leadership and drive serve as an incentive for the continued pursuit of excellence for all arts teachers.”

The recipients of the 2018 AIM Awards are: 

Angela Heise, Art Teacher/Fine Arts Department Chair at St. Martin High School

Category: Visual Arts                                  

Under Angela Heise’s leadership, the Department of Fine Arts has created an Advanced Placement Art program and has expanded its curriculum to include photography, 3D art, painting, sculpture, as well other courses in the performing arts.

Jennifer Butler, English Teacher at Pass Christian High School

Category: Creative Writing

Jennifer Butler has introduced students and teachers to the practice of creative writing through the Live Oak Writing Project, an affiliate of the National Writing Project, as she conducts professional development opportunities and trainings for teachers at high schools and summer institutes across the Gulf Coast area.

Carrie Culpepper Brown, Dance Teacher at McComb (MS) School District

Category: Dance

Carrie Culpepper Brown’s endeavors, in the past 10 years, include starting dance programs at Higgins Middle School, Denman Junior High, and McComb High School.  Developing these programs has given students, who may not have the opportunity to dance at studios, in rural areas of Mississippi the chance to instead dance in their school programs. 

Pierrdro Gallion, Director of Choral Activities at Murrah High School               

Category: Music, Choral

Pierrdro Gallion has taken the Murrah High School Choral program to new heights: The Murrah Concert Singers have won numerous awards on the district, state, and national levels. The choir has completed 5 years of competition with all superior ratings and invitations to honor choir festivals throughout the United States, Canada, Germany, and Austria, and is currently preparing to tour Italy.

Ida Mitchell, Director of Bands at the Stone County School District

Category: Music, Bands

Ida Mitchell, 33 year veteran music educator, has grown the Stone Band Program into a successful and well-established program—both in numbers and musically. Bands under Mitchell’s leadership have consistently received accolades and superior ratings in concert, sight-reading and marching, including Best in Class and Best in Show awards at both state and regional levels. 

Jorge Gonzalez, Orchestra Director at Hattiesburg Public School District

Category: Music, Symphony

Jorge Gonzalez, Director of the Hattiesburg Public School District Orchestra program, has been instrumental in the development and progress of higher standards for the strings students in the entire state of Mississippi. The Hattiesburg Public Schools’ orchestra program is one of only eight string programs in the state of Mississippi and continues to grow each year—it  now has over 300 students participating district-wide.

Suzanne Allmon, Theatre Director at Oak Grove High School

Category: Theatre   

Suzanne Allmon has been the director, producer, choreographer, and costume maker at Oak Grove High School for the past 21 years—directing over 150 productions.  The Oak Grove High School Theatre program, under her leadership, has been selected four times (1994, 2004, 2009, and 2017) to attend the American High School Theatre Festival, the largest and most prestigious festival in the world.  Only 35 programs out of 16,000 schools nominated were chosen for the honor.

The Award-winners will be recognized at upcoming special discipline related events, where they will receive their award. To learn more about the 2018 AIM Award recipients, visit: