Maurice Eldridge '61 Honored by Chester
Children's Chorus and Arts Schools Network
for Leadership in Arts Education
by Maki Somosot '12
Maurice Eldridge '61 with members of the Chester
Maurice Eldridge '61, vice president for community and college relations, has been honored twice in the past month for his role as an influential leader in the field of arts education. Most recently, he received the prestigious Jeffrey Lawrence Award on October 31st during the national conference of the Arts Schools Network in Washington, D.C. The Jeffrey Lawrence Award acknowledges the recipient for their lifetime devotion and commitment to excellence in arts education and training. The Arts Schools Network is a coalition of specialized arts schools and institutions whose greater mission is to support leaders of arts schools and preserve standards of academic excellence.
Eldridge was nominated for the award by Rory Pullens, head of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C., in order to recognize Eldridge’s continued efforts to develop arts education. His impact on the development of the Duke Ellington School of Arts was "tremendously important," according to Pullens. Eldridge was the principal of the Duke Ellington school when it rose to prominence. Pullens said that Eldridge employed a "democratic and collegial approach to leadership" that successfully addressed the needs of the specialized school community.
"I am thrilled that my peers in the arts education world value my contributions, and am even more thrilled that the central importance of arts education continues to gain ground in the world of education," Eldridge said. "Nothing is more gratifying for me than knowing that so many of my [former] students...are successful artists and performers and that so many others of them are living full and satisfyingly productive lives as citizens of their communities."
Earlier in October the Chester Children’s Chorus honored Eldridge for his influential role in supporting the growth and success of the organization at its 15th anniversary benefit. In 1994 Eldridge obtained funding to help John Alston start the chorus, which he still directs. "Maurice helped bring the Chorus into being and […] kept us going and growing ever since," John Alston reflected.
Eldridge remains a valuable Chorus supporter, serving as a trusted advisor and board member. Since its founding, the chorus has grown from 7 elementary school boys to more than 100 boys and girls from ages 8 to 18. By day these children attend school in Chester; after school they participate in an enriching extracurricular program of music performance at Swarthmore College’s Lang Music Building. Eldridge also serves as the chair of the Chester Fund for Education and the Arts, which supports the Chester Upland School for the Arts in partnership with the Chester Upland School District.