VMEA honors Neighbours for role in school music program

Published 9:43 am Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Windsor resident Joleen Neighbours, Ph.D., was named Outstanding Administrator of the Year for Virginia Music Education Association

For her role as coordinator of fine and performing arts for Suffolk Public Schools, Neighbours was honored at this year’s state conference with the distinction for music and arts education administration.

In a news release, VMEA officials said Neighbours received this distinction, in part, because of her advocacy for equitable access to arts education, particularly in music. 

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Believing that every student, regardless of their background, should have the opportunity to receive high-quality arts education, has fostered a growth in the SPS arts program to include the new Center for Performing and Production Arts. The center includes a one-of-a-kind music production program for high school students, a high school guitar program, mentoring programs for new fine arts teachers, and an Adaptive Fine and Performing Arts course. 

She has overseen the creation and development of all fine arts curriculums for Suffolk Public Schools, as well as serving on the Virginia Department of Education’s Fine Arts Steering Committee, digital integration for music team, and audio production team for career and technical education.

In 2023 Suffolk was designated as a “Best Communities for Music Education” for the first time in the history of the city. The release states that Neighbours produces and organizes all division-wide music and performance events, including but not limited to all-city orchestra, choir, band and elementary talented music, ensuring community engagement and exposure for all arts students in Suffolk.

VMEA, an affiliate of the National Association for Music Education, has an established awards program that recognizes service, achievements and contributions throughout Virginia. The purpose of these awards is to recognize the outstanding achievements and contributions of those people who have a positive impact on music education. Outstanding administrator is awarded to an individual who has been a major factor toward the success of a music program that may include securing greater funding levels, increased personal advocacy, support of teacher development efforts, and much more.