New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper


Sarra Receives 13th Annual VH1 Save the Music Foundation Award


Nancy Sarra, Superintendent of the Consolidated School District of New Britain (CSDNB), has been awarded the VH1 Save The Music Foundation’s 13th Annual Administrator Award for Distinguished Support of Music Education.

This prestigious award was presented in Nashville, Tennessee at the annual National Conference on Education, hosted by AASA, The School Superintendents Association.

The award recognizes one superintendent or school CEO who has exhibited outstanding commitment to restoring music education in his or her school district. Sarra was chosen for her deep commitment to providing all students in New Britain access to a well-rounded education that includes music. Through her partnership with VH1 Save The Music and the school district, all elementary schools in New Britain now have thriving band programs.

Since 2015, VH1 Save The Music Foundation has donated $325,000 worth of new musical instruments to CSDNB. AASA’s National Conference on Education brings public education’s best thought leaders together each year to discuss the most critical issues facing the nation’s public schools.

“Superintendent Sarra’s steadfast support for music in New Britain schools has been a shining example of exemplary leadership and support for music education,” said Jaclyn Rudderow, program director for the VH1 Save The Music Foundation. “Her commitment is ensuring equitable access to music for all students districtwide.”

VH1 Save The Music Foundation began a partnership with CSDNB in 2015 and committed to providing Core Band Grants to nine eligible elementary schools across the district. Over the course of three years, the Foundation completed a rebuild and now all elementary school students have access to instrumental music education in their schools.

Sarra, who fosters a vision of whole child education, has been a force behind music the arts since her tenure began. She was instrumental in overseeing changes made to the middle school arts delivery model, which increased the time students participated in music programs from less than one hour a week to four hours a week. As a result, the enrollment in the middle school music program has more than doubled over the last two years.

Now seeing a need to further invest in the arts, Sarra allocated more than $240,000 worth of band instruments, $45,000 worth of new string instruments and $7,000 worth of instrument racks for the middle school music program, allowing more student participation and choice in their instrumentation. This support has fostered the vertical growth of the music program, building on the success of the VH1 Save The Music Core Band Grants at the elementary level.

“As we continue to focus on whole child development, we understand that music is an integral part of that development,” said Sarra. “With music education programming, we will continue to increase student engagement while affording our students the opportunity to apply the skills of collaboration, cooperation and goal-directed persistence. This cannot be done without the support of my team, including Assistant Superintendent and former New Britain High School Band Director Paul Salina, Districtwide Director of Fine Arts Leona Clerkin, and a Board that is supportive of whole child development and arts in the schools. We are thankful for the support of VH1 Save The Music Foundation. Their investment on behalf of our students will continue to pay off for years to come.”