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USM Arts Institute Opens Call for 2023 AIM Award Nominations: Celebrating Excellence in Arts Education

Mon, 01/09/2023 - 09:09am | By: Ivonne Kawas

The Arts Institute of Mississippi (AIM) at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) is accepting nominations for the 2023 AIM Awards, which seek to celebrate excellence in arts education by recognizing high school level art teachers, schools, and organizations in Mississippi.

“Each year we invite members of the community to nominate candidates for the AIM Awards to honor those in our state who are serving as catalysts in enhancing education in and through the arts,” said Dr. Jay Dean, AIM Director in the College of Arts and Sciences. “Let’s share the success stories of those who are preparing the next generation of artistic leaders and making an impact through exemplary achievements.”

The eight arts educators who were honored in 2020-22 included:

  • Renna Moore, Visual Arts at Power APAC in Jackson, Miss.
  • Clinnesha D. Sibley, Literary Arts at Mississippi School for the Arts (MSA) in Brookhaven, Miss.
  • Olivia Drinkwater, Music and Theatre at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Hattiesburg, Miss.
  • Daniel Martinez, Director of Orchestral Activities at Gulfport School District in Gulfport, Miss.
  • Harvey Jackson, Director of Choral Activities Gentry High School in Indianola, Miss.
  • Justin Harvison, Director of Bands at Germantown High School in Madison, Miss.
  • Cassandra Weiss, Music Educator at Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg, Miss.
  • Sarah Williams, Dance Educator at Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg, Miss.

Eligibility and Nomination Process

  • Any member of the public can nominate high school level arts teachers, schools, or organizations for this award, or they can nominate themselves.
  • Those eligible to receive the award are involved in the arts disciplines, including creative writing, dance, media and entertainment arts, music (bands, orchestras, choirs, and other musical ensembles), theatre, and visual arts. In addition, private teachers and organizations can be nominated.
  • Qualified nominees include those who have enhanced education in, and through the arts; made significant contributions to students, school, or community; and improved Mississippi through teaching, performance, or other exemplary service.

The judges will select recipients, from each discipline, who best meet the eligibility criteria. Nominations must be submitted by March 3, 2023. Judges will evaluate the materials and notify the recipients in mid-April. The award recipients will be recognized at special events, either at their high schools/organizations or at Southern Miss, where they will be presented with the award.

To learn more about the award criteria and to submit your nominations visit