ODESSA, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – Ector County ISD was recognized by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation and the Texas Art Education Association, respectively, this week.

According to a release from ECISD, the district has earned the District of Distinction award for the third year in a row, an honor only achieved by the top 5.5% of Texas school districts. This award recognizes districts that provide a well-rounded education that advocated and integrates visual arts curriculum to inspire creativity and build social emotional learning that connect learners to their community and beyond.

“ECISD Fine Arts is incredibly honored to have once again been recognized as an Art ‘District of Distinction,’” said Executive Director of Fine Arts Dr. Aaron Hawley. “The award acknowledges the outstanding teaching that occurs daily in our Fine Arts classrooms.”

ECISD says that only 68 districts of the over 1,200 eligible districts met the high standard for the 2023 award.

Some of the criteria ECISD says enabled them to achieve this award include providing district art shows; having elementary, middle, and high school students involved in art competitions; being involved in community service projects; maintaining an active social media presence; as well as collaborating with other subject areas and teachers.

“Fine Arts not only provides our students with a well-rounded education but also develops skills that promote success in their other classes,” added Dr. Hawley. “Thank you to our ECISD School Board and the citizens of Ector County for strongly supporting our Fine Arts programs.” 

“Ector County ISD has set a high standard for visual arts advocacy, integrated visual arts curriculum, encouraged creativity, community participation and student growth,” said Sandra Newton, Chair of the Visual Art Administrators of Texas, a division of TAEA, “It is a true testament to your visual art educators’ skill, dedication, and flexibility that the quality of their programs continued to provide strong and comprehensive visual art educational experiences to students.”

ECISD and the other winning districts are to be honored at the TAEA Administration and & Supervision meeting and General Session during the TAEA Fall Conference General Assembly on Friday, November 17.

In a separate release from ECISD, they announced the district’s recognition as one of the Best Communities for Music Education for the ninth year in a row. The recognition is given to districts which demonstrate an exceptionally high commitment and high access to music education through the outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students, and community leaders who have made music part of a well-rounded education.

“We have a really long history of going above and beyond when it comes to fine arts,” said ECISD Executive Director of Fine Arts. Dr. Aaron Hawley. “And that is all of the fine arts. We take great pride in the success we have had as a fine arts department.”

To qualify for the designation, ECISD says they answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, and community music-making programs. Responses were then verified by school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.