RTTT Performing Fine Arts Assessment Project

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For More Information, Please Contact:

Beth Cummings

Acting Director Fine Arts
Polk County School Board
FMEA past president BETH CUMMINGS is a graduate of the University of South Florida, certified in music K-12, holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from Grand Canyon University and is a nation board certified teacher.  Her current position is acting director of fine arts for Polk County Public Schools.  She serves as the 2013-15 FMEA President and is past president of the Florida Music Supervisory Association and she served on the FVA board for nine year.  Mrs. Cummings was the co-chair for the music writing team for the NGSSS and on the course description writing team.

Mary Grace Gordon

Project Manager
Race-to-the-Top FLORIDA Performing Fine Arts Assessment

MARY GRACE GORDON served as the Project Manager for the Florida Performing Fine Arts Assessment.  This $5.7 million Race-to-the-Top grant project developed test items for a statewide item bank that assess individual student achievement of the Performing, Creating, and Responding Next General Sunshine State Standards for the highest enrolled courses in Dance, Music and Theatre.  Over 450 Performing Fine Arts Educators worked on teams which contributed to the Items Specifications, Blueprints and Field Test.
Mary Grace is a classical soloist and performer on both the opera and musical theatre stage.  She marked her eleventh production of The Sound of Music at Theatre Winter Haven, having appeared in over 1,000 performances of this beloved musical, as Maria and now, as the Mother Abbess.  Mary Grace performed in a critically acclaimed and extended run in Miami, FL, as Anna in her fourth production of The King & I.  In addition, Mary Grace’s regional credits include Carlotta in Phantom,  Mrs. Anna Smith in Meet Me In St. Louis,  Abigail Adams in 1776,  Meg in Damn Yankees,  Julie in Showboat,  Marian and Mrs. Paroo in Music Man,  Guenevere in Camelot,  Fiona in Brigadoon,  Eliza in My Fair Lady,  Julie, Carrie, Mrs. Mullin and Nettie Fowler in Carousel (including a national tour as Nettie), Laurie in Oklahoma, and many other leading roles in musical theatre.
She has also played Anna in Anastasia, Corie in Barefoot in the Park, Chelsea in On Golden Pond, and Tracy in Philadelphia Story.  Mary Grace is equally at home on the opera stage.  She performed such roles as the Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors,  Pamina in The Magic Flute,  Mimi in La Boheme,  Miss Wordsworth in Albert Herring,  Blanche in Dialogues of the Carmelites,  Lucy in The Telephone,  Mabel in the Pirates of Penzance,  Liu in Turandot, and the title roles in Susanna and Manon.
Some of Mary Grace’s most memorable accomplishments include singing at the White House for Presidents Reagan and Carter, and portraying the role of Laurie in The Tender Land under the baton of the composer, Aaron Copland.  She performed as soloist in the Brahms’ REQUIEM, conducted by Joel Revzen at The Crane School of Music in New York.  Mary Grace toured Ireland and Great Britain as the soprano soloist with the Ottawa Choral Society in collaboration with the Bath Philharmonia and the English Chambre Orchestra.  She has appeared as guest soloist with the Orchestra of Northern New York, Virginia Beach Symphony Orchestra, the Florida Symphony Orchestra, and performed a solo concert for the National Conference of Christians and Jews.  She sang with the Voices of Liberty at Walt Disney World and shared the stage with Tony Bennett, Carol Lawrence, Pat Boone, Richard Carpenter, and other celebrities. 
In addition to her performance credits, Gordon was the Project Director for "Teach Music in New York City," a State University of New York research project, as well as a partnership among The Crane School of Music, VH1 Save The Music Foundation, the New York City Department of Education, and the United States Department of Education.  With the support of a USDOE $546,425 grant, the mission of “Teach Music in New York City” was to recruit, prepare and place highly qualified music educators into NYC public schools, where principals, parents and children desired successful music programs.  Additional partners included Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians, The Actors’ Work Fund, Music Educators’ Association of New York City, the New York Philharmonic, the Carnegie Hall Education Program, and the Center for Educational Innovation-Public Education Association in NYC.  Gordon has served as the Production & Marketing Director for the ARTS for the Community Performance Series (CPS) in Residence at The Crane School of Music, Consultant for Newport News Public Schools in Virginia, and Director of Business Partnerships for the Florida Department of Education.
Mary Grace holds a Master of Music in Voice Performance from The Florida State University.  She is a professional actress and is a member of the Actors’ Equity Association.  She relocated from New York to make her home in Lakeland, FL with her husband, Dr. Daniel A. Gordon, the Director of Fine Arts Ministries at First Presbyterian Church, Lakeland and professor of music at Southeastern University.  They have two sons, David, a graduate of Rollins College in computer science and music, and Britt, a graduate of the School of Theatre at The Florida State University as a B.F.A. acting major.

PCSB (The Polk County School Board served as the fiscal agent for this three-year grant project.)
Jim Miles Professional Development Center
5204 Hwy. 98 South
Lakeland, FL 33813

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