In addition to the recognition of her excellence in teaching and inspiration to countless students, Ms. Dickert will be awarded $15,000. This is one the largest monetary awards for teachers in the U.S.
“My daughter just participated in her 6th grade show that involved singing, speaking, stage transitions, and choreography/dance. As I watched her onstage, I became emotional, reflecting upon her transition from a shy three-year-old girl to a confident and joyful young adult,” JCDS parent Dr. Anjali Lueck wrote in her nomination letter for Virginia’s award.
She credits Ms. Dickert for sparking this transition. “Over the past 9 years, I have watched my two children intellectually expand and emotionally flourish under her skillful direction. She established the foundations of music theory in their preschool years, and transitioned them to complex and challenging vocal, theatrical, and musical applications into their early adolescence.”
Ms. Dickert’s love for her students and her profession shows in so many ways. In addition to teaching music to all 1st through 6th grade students, Virginia directs all of the 1st through 6th grade shows at JCDS. “Ms. Dickert directly facilitates age-appropriate performance for each grade, and the experiences have a cumulative effect in promoting collaboration, teamwork, confidence, and character,” Christy Maurer, Director of Education, Grades 3-6, said.
Virginia is selfless with her time; she escorts students to numerous musical conferences around the state, including the Music USA Festival in Orlando, the Florida All-State Elementary Orff Ensemble and Chorus, and the First Coast Honors Choir. “She continually goes above and beyond that which her job description could ever extend,” Chrystal Staples, Band and Drumline Specialist, said.
Ms. Dickert believes in serving the community through music. She takes 1st grade to perform at the Brookdale Senior Living Facility for an annual Valentine’s Day show and the 3rd grade to UF Health Jacksonville for a yearly Veteran’s Day performance.
“She has helped lay the foundations to launch music careers for a number of graduates, and a love of music in almost all of them,” Pat Walker, Head of School, said. “Virginia’s dedication to the care and guidance of students for decades at our school exemplifies an outstanding teacher. The love of music she has instilled has been an irreplaceable gift to more than a generation of students. We are blessed to have Virginia at JCDS.”
The Gladys Prior Awards were established in 1998 by Gilchrist Berg, founder and president of Water Street Capital, to honor teachers who have had lifelong careers in teaching and inspiring students. The award is named after Mr. Berg’s 4th grade teacher at Ortega Elementary School. Ms. Dickert is the second JCDS teacher to win this award. Retired teacher Donna Hamm won the award in 2003.