In Memoriam: Elizabeth R. Francis
September 10, 1920 - December 7, 2011

We are saddened by the passing of Elizabeth "Libby" Francis on December 7, 2011 at the age of 91. Libby was the inspiration for the founding of the Appalachian Education Initiative (originally the Francis Foundation for the Arts) by her son, Michael Francis, and her granddaughter, Jennifer Francis McNally, ten years ago this month. She touched thousands of lives in West Virginia during her many years as an educator, theatre director, and choral master. Her legacy will continue for many years to come.


Student Artist of the Month Program

Chesapeake Student Artist of the Month

Brittany Shreves Named July 2011 Student Artist of the Month.

The Appalachian Education Initiative and Chesapeake Energy (www.chk.com) are teaming up to recognize West Virginia public high school juniors and seniors who excel in school arts programs and demonstrate leadership and excellence in other education and community activities. The new Student Artist of the Month program begins this month and continues through the school year.

“One of our primary goals at AEI is to increase awareness of the importance and value that arts education brings to our public school students,” said Lou Karas, AEI executive director. “We are pleased that Chesapeake Energy chose to partner with us and help us emphasize that arts programs are a necessary component of public education for all students. Children who participate in the arts learn creativity and self confidence that will enhance their lives no matter what career path they choose.”

“It is appropriate that we introduce our program this month because October is National Arts and Humanities Month,” said Jack Thompson, public relations coordinator for Chesapeake Energy. “While our business deals with exacting calculations and science, we know very well that employees who are creative and skilled in the critical thinking processes that they learn through the arts are some of our very best.”

Each month AEI and Chesapeake Energy will select one student from those who are nominated. That student will be featured on the AEI web site along with photos and an interview. To be nominated for the recognition, a student must meet five criteria, according to Karas. A student must...
  • Be a junior or senior attending a West Virginia public school,
  • Participate on an ongoing basis in a visual or performing arts program and have mastered that art or progressed in the field as a result of school-related activities,
  • Be in good academic standing ,
  • Participate in other extracurricular activities or community activities that do not have to be arts related, and
  • Demonstrate leadership skills.
Nominate a Student | About the Student Artist of the Month Program

Kennedy Center/National Symphony Orchestra National Trustees' Summer Music Institute


The Kennedy Center/National Symphony Orchestra Summer Music Institute is a 4-week program at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC for student instrumentalists. The program is designed for serious music students, ages 15 to 20. Each student accepted into the Summer Music Institute attends on full scholarship which includes housing, food allowance and local transportation during their stay in our Nation's Capital. AEI will nominate up to five West Virginia students who will be considered for the program. The final selection of participants is made by the National Symphony Orchestra. Applications are due by Friday, January 28, 2011.

Download: 2011 SMI Application

Call for Scores from West Virginia Composers

Kennedy Center

The National Symphony Orchestra and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., in association with the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, announce the commissioning of a chamber work by a resident West Virginia composer. A resident West Virginia composer will be commissioned to write a work of approximately 10-15 minutes duration for chamber forces.

The commission award is $5,000 + travel expenses associated with the premiere. Music copying, commissioning fees, and composer’s travel expenses are included in this amount.

Submissions must be made to the Appalachian Education Initiative which is serving as the state coordinator, and include all elements listed under Submission Requirements, below. A panel convened by the West Virginia Division of Culture & History and the Appalachian Education Initiative will narrow the applications to three finalists. A National Symphony Orchestra jury — overseen by Principal Conductor Iván Fischer — will make the final selection of a West Virginia composer for this commission.

Download: Application for more information.

Music Teacher Fellowship during Summer 2010 in Washington, D.C.

Kennedy Center

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has accepted the invitation from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History to make West Virginia the site of the National Symphony Orchestra’s 2010 American Residency. As part of the American Residency, one music educator from West Virginia will be chosen to receive a Teacher Fellowship with the National Symphony Orchestra this summer. The teacher will be selected by a panel, convened by the Appalachian Education Initiative (AEI), for an individually designed program to further the teacher's professional development. The Music Teacher Fellowship will take place in Washington, D.C. under the auspices of the National Symphony Orchestra Education Program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts administer a four-week summer fellowship for one public or private school (K-12) music teacher as part of the NSO American Residency program. The selected teacher fellow is awarded a cash stipend and all expenses (excluding travel to and from West Virginia which may be covered through other sources) are covered for his/her stay in Washington, D.C. The total value of the fellowship is not to exceed $5,000.

The NSO Education staff work in conjunction with the Fellow to plan instructional activities which focus on the fellow's chosen areas of interest. In addition, the Fellow has opportunities to study with members of the National Symphony Orchestra, attend performances at the Kennedy Center, and, of course, visit the sites at our nation's capital. Dates of the Fellowship are flexible (June/July is preferred) and will be determined by mutual agreement between the successful candidate and Kennedy Center/NSO staff.

Download: NSO Teacher Fellowship Application

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July 2011 Student Artist

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June 2011 Student Artist

About the Program

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Brittany Shreves selected Student Artist of the Month 
Coty Sheme selected Student Artist of the Month 
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The mission of AEI is to promote a students personal development, academic performance and 21st century workforce preparation by ensuring the availability of quality arts education in West Virginia public schools.

AEI accomplishes its mission by providing arts education advocacy, professional development and research programs and services.

AEI is the West Virginia affiliate of the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network.

Kennedy Center

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