School of Music alumnus Andrew Bajorek (MM '16) was recently appointed as the Fine Arts and Resource Specialist for the School District of Osceola County. Bajorek is no stranger to Osceola County's arts programs, having been involved in developing the education curriculum for the University of Florida Opera Theatre's public school outreach with Osceola County.
What does your role as Fine Arts and Resource Specialist for Osceola County entail?
In this role, I act as a coordinator for the gamut of arts programs in the School District of Osceola County. Each day presents a new opportunity to create and advocate for the arts programs for the nearly 70,000 students in the district. From grant writing and administration, to curriculum design and alignment, to teacher recruitment and representing the district at local and national performance events, the position is multifaceted and satisfyingly challenging. The School District of Osceola County has been established as a beacon of arts opportunities in the state of Florida, so my work to continue this success is certainly all ahead of me. However, I feel highly prepared given my experiences as a graduate student at the University of Florida.
How do you think your time at UF helped lead you to this position?
At UF, I was able to sharpen my skills as a performer, educator and researcher, which are three essential qualifications for my position. UF lived up to its name in providing unmatched training in curriculum design and research methodologies. Each day, I utilize my training in research to provide evidence to justify my advocacy for a specific curriculum, an outreach program, or in establishing a collective vision for an area of the arts.
It is important to note, too, that none of this would have been possible if it had not been for the humanism and compassion of the UF faculty, who welcomed and honored the importance of balance and family in the lives of their graduate students. These experiences impact my daily decision making, and I am so thankful to have been embraced by the teaching faculty at UF who made this kind of real-world training a possibility.
What impact on the community would you like to have in this position?
I aim to continue my predecessors’ energy and vision for providing unique outreach opportunities for students and in seeking enrichment experiences to augment the student experience in Osceola County. I am also eager to use my background in early childhood music education, secondary instrumental pedagogy and band directing to help to continue to align the curriculum and assist teachers in their goal to deliver the best instruction to their students. I see my role as being instrumental in supporting directors and students in achieving these goals in central Florida, throughout the state, and throughout the nation.
Will you get to use your passion for teaching musical concepts in this new position?
As a resource specialist in Osceola County, I am granted with the most amazing opportunity to advocate for arts programs in theater, dance, visual arts and in music. My experience in teaching musical concepts will certainly permeate in supporting teachers and students in these disciplines.
Any last words about arts in grade schools?
Arts education exists as a core component of the American school curriculum because of the intrinsic value of aesthetics in an individual’s perception of the world. However, it is equally important to point out that an education in the arts—a STEAM education, if you will—unlocks the imperative senses of creativity that, beyond content knowledge, advantage an individual in their ability to impart empathy, symphony, design, play, story and meaning in their life’s work. The movers-and-shakers of the mid-21st century will be individuals who can not only perform math, writing and engineering tasks, but can also do so with “blue sky” thinking—the kind of brain process that is only honed through a comprehensive education in the arts.
As I prepare to greet my life’s work, I am reminded that my time making and teaching music in the noble gothic walls at the University of Florida will forever impact the students and teachers that I work with—and through their future successes, I can truly claim that it is great to be a Florida Gator.