Director of Fine and Performing Arts K-12 Anthony Mazzocchi announced recently he was leaving the South Orange - Maplewood School district to take a faculty position at the music school of Montclair State University.
A Maplewood resident and father of two, Mazzocchi was a graduate of Tuscan Elementary School, Maplewood Middle School and Columbia High School. Since joining SOMSD in 2010, he was responsible for all of the music and art instruction in the district.
Students and teachers had praised Mazzocchi for bringing new vigor to the district's already strong arts program.
At a recent student concert at South Orange Middle School, orchestra teacher William Cook called Mazzocchi a "driving force" who brought a "breath of fresh air" to the district's arts education. Cook credited Mazzocchi with launching the Suzuki violin program and a five-day a week practice schedule for middle schoolers, and for securing new musical equipment for students.
"Tony Mazzocchi exemplified the perfect mixture of leader, artist, and educator," said Superintendent Brian Osborne. "He took an already great program and made it better. During challenging economic times, he expanded and enhanced the arts in SOMSD schools. I am grateful to him for his contribution and am glad that he will continue to be a vibrant part of SOMSD as an involved parent and arts advocate."
Recently, Patch interviewed Mazzocchi by email. Here are his responses.
What is your next step after leaving SOMSD?
I will be the Associate Director of the Cali School of Music at Montclair State University. As as well administrative responsibilities, I will be the Professor of Trombone (I have been the trombone guy there for six years). I will continue to run my non-profit summer music camp in Vermont with my wife, Debbie (Kinhaven Music School).
What was your favorite part about the job?
Implementing a strong vision for K-12 art and music and watching the programs grow in leaps and bounds.
What accomplishments in the district are you most proud of?
The K-4 Suzuki violin program, the overhaul of the middle school instrumental music programs (giving students five days a week of instruction, up from two), and the fusion of art and music in our annual festivals in the schools.
What will you miss the most?
Being in the classrooms watching students create on a daily basis.
Tell us about your other ventures and plans.
My life has been very unpredictable thus far. I started blogging six months ago and hope to write a book soon. I am extremely fortunate to be performing at a high level, so I will keep practicing. I have been consulting for numerous organizations that want to build music programs in the schools, and I look forward to helping MSU grow and create a new generation of musicians and educators. From there...who knows?
Recently, Mazzocchi was a quarterfinalist for the first Grammy in the Schools award. For more information, see this link.